• Episode 237 Morgan's Surprise HBAC + AFI

    Today we are joined by a truly amazing woman of strength, Morgan. She recently retired after 25 years of active duty service in the Coast Guard and is a mama to two boys and one girl, each with their own very unique birth stories. 

    Morgan’s first baby was born vaginally. Her second was a lifesaving crash Cesarean. Her third was a surprise HBAC born en caul! The high of this empowering birth carried her through a difficult postbirth hospital experience in which she almost lost her uterus. 

    Meagan and Morgan share facts and insight regarding the amniotic fluid index. Morgan also gives tips on how to have necessary conversations with your provider to advocate for the birth experience you deserve.

    Additional Links

    Bridget’s Website (Morgan’s Doula)

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, hello. Happy Wednesday, women of strength. We are bringing another story to you. You are listening to The VBAC Link and we have our friend, Morgan, here today sharing her stories. I’m really excited because just before we started recording, we talked about how Morgan said that she is a numbers girl. She’s like, “I love numbers.” It’s something that I love too but never have ever retained as well as Julie did. I’d be like, “Okay, I’m trying to remember. Is it this or that?” and she’d be like, “It’s this.” 

    I remember names and stuff like that and she remembers numbers. That has been something that I have really missed without Julie being here so I’m excited to talk about numbers with you today, Morgan. We’re going to talk specifically maybe about amniotic fluid and percentages and things like that. But yeah. I’m excited to get into some numbers. If you’re looking for some numbers on the chances of VBAC, we’re going to talk about amniotic fluid. What really is a scary number and when do we really need to induce a labor? Stay tuned. 

    Review of the Week

    Of course, we have a Review of the Week so before I turn the time over to Morgan, we will read Britjl14. That is their review today. The subject is “Tears of Joy.” It says, “I literally got teary-eyed when I saw that your podcast was coming back. You gave me the courage to have my VBAC after two Cesarean baby, 9 pounds, 15 ounces, in late August. Such an uplifting and informative podcast. I tell everyone who mentions wanting a VBAC to look this up. So excited for more to come.” 

    I love that. You guys, when we decided to bring the podcast back, it was so exciting for us too. So, so exciting. It was so fun to get all of the emails and the messages on Instagram saying, “Ahh! We’ve been waiting!” because we took a 10-month break. A 10-month break. That’s what we needed to do for our personal lives but we are so happy. I am so happy to be back. I definitely miss Julie every time that I’m recording, but I’m really so happy to be back and so honored to be a part of all of these beautiful stories because really, I wish I had this when I was preparing for my VBAC. I really do. 

    I go back. This probably sounds silly because I’m recording the stories and I’m hearing the stories but then every week, I go in and I listen to the stories because I am learning things after recording and hearing them the first time, a second time. I’m learning things about births and certain procedures so it’s always a learning experience even for me who “specializes in VBAC” so it’s really, really fun. 

    So yeah. Thank you so much for your review. Remember, if you have not had a chance to leave us a review, we love them. We always, always read them and add them to our queue to read them on a podcast. 

    Morgan’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Morgan. Hello. 

    Morgan: Hi, hi. Thanks for having me. 

    Meagan: Hi. Thanks for being here. Thanks so much for being here all the way from Alaska. 

    Morgan: Yes, yes. Juneau. 

    Meagan: Awesome. So awesome. Well, I’d love to turn the time over to you to share your story. I guess it was actually your second birth story technically?

    Morgan: My third. My third, yeah. My second was a C-section.

    Meagan: Yeah, sorry. That’s what I am talking about, your C-section. Your second birth story, I also want to talk about because it was a very valid Cesarean. 

    Morgan: It was. Yeah. 

    Meagan: I want to talk about that too because we can come across as so negative with Cesarean because it’s a VBAC podcast and we’re sharing a Cesarean story that led to a VBAC but a lot of the times, the Cesareans were negative or unneeded or undesired or unplanned, so sometimes it can come across that we are talking badly about Cesareans but I want to point out today with Morgan’s story especially that it was very, very needed. We are so grateful for Cesareans too. Even though we are a pro-VBAC podcast, we are not anti-doc and anti-Cesarean. That is for sure. I will let you share your story but I just want to talk about that because sometimes I think it can be like, “Wow. This podcast hates Cesareans,” and that’s not the case. That’s not the case at all. 

    Morgan: Yeah, so I have three kids now and my first was a vaginal birth. It was mostly pretty well sought out and went through as expected. I was 41+5 and everything went pretty well. I did have some retained placenta at the end so I had to go back in for a D&C at six weeks postpartum because we hadn’t caught that before. 

    My second pregnancy was a really good pregnancy. I was healthy. I was working. Everything was going as expected except my son, Cooper, was transverse. He would not budge. I tried so many things to have him budge. I was doing Spinning Babies. I went to the chiropractor. I could not find an acupuncturist where I was that I trusted and was ready to go to, but we tried so many things to get him to turn and it wouldn’t work. 

    Toward the end, my doctor and I discussed doing a version. To me, we had discussed the risks of it were having a C-section at the end, but that’s what we were going in and trying to avoid anyways so the risks weren’t bothering me at that point so we did end up trying a version. It worked. It was very exciting, but then he turned back. I was like, “Oh no!” It was devastating. It was so devastating. 

    Meagan: Oh, that would be hard. 

    Morgan: That was one version and he turned back. So the doctor had said, “Man.” She was right with me on my birth plan too. She was there. She was ready to go. She said, “Well, let’s try another one.” I was like, “Okay. Let’s do it.” I went through it. I got through the first one. It was uncomfortable but we did it. So the second one, we tried another one, and sure enough, he turned. We were like, “Yes! We’ve just got to keep him there.” I was standing up all day. I wasn’t going to move. He was going to stay in. 

    He turned back. I felt him turn back. I was like, “Ugh.” A second successful version that then turned back. After that, we were coming up on our due date and I was just so adamant about wanting a vaginal birth at that point that I said, “You know what? Why don’t we try a third version and we’ll just induce right after that? Maybe I won’t get my unmedicated birth but I’ll still have a vaginal delivery,” which for me was important because I wanted to be able to breastfeed without any concerns. 

    So we tried. We tried a third version. It was on my due date. We were in the hospital. We were ready to induce afterward. My doula was on call. We were going to call her in after I started laboring. In the middle of the version, we lost his heartbeat. She had me connected with an ultrasound the whole time. She’s doing the version and there’s a nurse that’s doing the ultrasound and all of a sudden, we had no heartbeat. 

    She said, “Maybe it’s just where we are. Let’s move a little bit and see.” I turned and I moved. We tried to find the heartbeat again and we couldn’t find it. She said, “Just give me a second.” She walked out of the room. I was all the way in the back of the labor and delivery unit at that point. She walked out of the room so calmly. She went into the hallway and yelled, “We need help in here!!!”

    Meagan: Whoa. 

    Morgan: I was like, “Whoa.” I was not expecting that. What went from calm right in front of me went to a massive emergency in a hallway. All of the nurses descended and the bed got moving. We went into the operating room and it took 20 minutes because I didn’t have an IV or anything connected to me at the time. So 20 minutes later–

    Meagan: So you were under general anesthesia? They didn’t put you under general?

    Morgan: They did not. No, I saw it. I saw the whole thing. I mean, they had the cover up but there are so many reflective units and metal everywhere that I could actually see what was happening which was fine. I don’t mind that. 

    But yeah. They pulled him out 20 minutes later. He was not breathing. No breathing, no heartbeat, or anything. They had to do CPR. 

    Meagan: Scary. 

    Morgan: They got him back. The nurses got him back which is just amazing. He was rushed to a NICU at another hospital, the highest level NICU. I think it’s a 4. 

    Meagan: Yeah, mhmm. 

    Morgan: Yeah, so he went to a children’s hospital where there was a massive NICU. He’s good. Friday is his birthday and he’ll be 8. He’s just an amazing little kid.

    Meagan: So amazing. 

    Morgan: So I’m very, very grateful for that C-section.

    Meagan: How was that for you? How was recovery for you? 

    Morgan: Recovery was fine. There were no unexpected occurrences. We knew it was going to take a little longer. I knew not to work. The thing that was hard was, well first, breastfeeding because I had so much IV fluid in me. 

    Meagan: I was going to ask. 

    Morgan: Yeah. I got really nervous because I was pumping. He was at a different hospital. After two or three days, I saw my levels go down drastically and I was like, “What is this?” What happened was that the IV fluids had left my system so it was just my natural breastfeeding amount. I was not expecting that drastic change. But once we figured out what that was, that was good. 

    The second thing that was hard was his being in a NICU. Once I was discharged from the hospital, my husband was driving back and forth from the home to the hospital. Luckily we were close enough, but I could only sit. I couldn’t lay in that NICU. I couldn’t lie so there was a little bit of pain there. Once we were ready to get him breastfeeding, we didn’t have a room for us. He was still in the NICU so I was sleeping outside in the guest area, like the waiting room along with other families that were going through things like their kids in cancer and stuff and there was nowhere for the parents to stay so we were all making tents in the waiting room. So that was a little hard for that recovery. 

    Meagan: That is hard. That is really hard. 

    Morgan: Yeah. That part was stressful but once we were all home, it was good. It was good. 

    Meagan: How long was he in the NICU?

    Morgan: He was there for 11 days. They were worried about brain damage so it was a hypothermic treatment that they put him on. 

    Meagan: Did they put him in a cooler?

    Morgan: Yep, mhmm. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Well, so grateful that all is well. There must have been something. It’s so hard because my baby kept going breech. My midwife would flip him and then boom, back breech. Flip him, and then boom. Back breech. It was the same thing. I’d feel him and I’m like, “What the heck?” She finally was like, “We have to trust him. There’s a reason. We don’t know why. We don’t understand it, but we have to trust him.” It’s so hard. It’s so hard. 

    Morgan: Yep, yep. 

    Meagan: Because I was like, “If I have to have a third Cesarean because he’s breech, I will be so mad.” But yeah. That’s so hard. 

    Morgan: Right. That’s so true. I think Cooper was telling us, “I’m not supposed to be here if I go this way. Things are going to go bad,” and sure enough, they did. He tried twice but then yeah. 

    Meagan: The third time was too stressful for him. 

    Morgan: It was too stressful. I think possibly that maybe that umbilical cord got bent in a way that no airflow could go through or something. We don’t know. But yeah, thank goodness for that C-section because it brought him back to us. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. Yeah. So then baby number three? 

    Morgan: Yep, baby number three. That was five years later. We’ve had a lot of difficulties with some miscarriages. I didn’t mention before that I’m Active Duty Coast Guard. I also am on the ships all of the time so you have to plan pregnancies around shipboard life. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Morgan: Yeah. There are big time periods between my kids. But baby number three was five years later. I wanted a VBAC from the start. I wanted an unmedicated VBAC. I knew I could do it. After my first pregnancy where I was so close to being unmedicated and my second pregnancy being a C-section, I knew that VBACs were available. I knew that I could do it. I was so adamant about going down that route. 

    With the Coast Guard, you don’t really get to choose. With any military, you don’t really get to choose your provider. Most of the time, we are in a military treatment facility. I was very, very grateful to not be there. I had some negative experiences in both the local MTFs. This was in Washington, D.C. so getting to be with a civilian provider was just amazing to me. I was very happy. We were with the INOVA hospital system at that time. 

    The provider I went to for the first appointment was at 10 weeks. We had a great heartbeat. Everything was going well. I was like, “I’m going to have a VBAC with this child.” He said, “Okay. I am good to go on that.” It was exactly what we were expecting. I would never have expected him to say otherwise at that point. I’m like, “Vaginal birth is clearly the way to go without any sort of condition saying otherwise.”

    The pregnancy progressed. I guess I should mention that I was 40 at this time. With my second child, Cooper, I was 35 or 36 when I had him so I was in that high-risk stage just for age at that point. So of course, I’m there now at 40 and everything was fine. The pregnancy progressed. Everything was going well. At some point midway through, we were looking at what position the baby was in and she was breech. I was not happy about that and he was like, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” Knowing what happened with Cooper, I was not so thrilled. 

    Meagan: You’re like, “I have some trauma on that.”

    Morgan: I did, yes. At this point, I didn’t go for a chiropractor but I did learn that there was a wonderful acupuncturist in the area that had wonderful success with turning babies so I went to him. It was a 3-hour session and I actually felt her move in the session. It was just amazing. I couldn’t believe it. It was so cool. I’m like, “I feel her moving.” So she did. She turned a whole 180 at that point. 

    He left us with homework. He called it, “Hot hot sticks” where you burn this incense over your pinky toe. 

    Meagan: Bladder 6, yeah. 

    Morgan: My husband would do it and the acupuncturist said, “You don’t take it away when she says, ‘Hot’, you take it away when she’s like, ‘Hot, hot, hot, hot!’” so that’s why she called it hot hot sticks. 

    Meagan: Hey, I have actually seen that work though. The baby flips with those things. It’s called Bladder 6. It’s really cool. 

    Morgan: We did that. He’s like, “You have to do this every day.” We continued to do it. It was great. I mean, I speak wonders about his service in the D.C. area. So that worked. We go back to the doctor and around 30 weeks, he started saying, “Okay, we need to schedule your C-section.” I was like, “Why? No. We don’t need to schedule a C-section.” He goes, “Well, you had one so we just need to schedule it.” I said, “I’m doing a VBAC. We talked about this.”

    Meagan: Yeah, remember at 10 weeks?

    Morgan: Right, right. He said, “Well, just in case.” I was like, “Why can’t we just induce? There are many steps between vaginal delivery and a C-section.” 

    Meagan: Yes. 

    Morgan: And scheduling a C-section I should say, right? So he taught me then, “We don’t induce with VBACs. There’s no Pitocin.” Later on in the story, I found out that that’s not exactly accurate. Some doctors will do it but he wouldn’t. That appointment was leading us down the road of research and starting for me to learn more about how to advocate and how ACOG and obstetricians and gynecologists work in their network and what their risk levels are and how important being able to talk to them in their language was. 

    Meagan: Yeah.

    Morgan: He said, “We’re going to schedule a C-section for 37 weeks.” 

    Meagan: Whoa. 37 weeks?

    Morgan: I was floored. Yes. I was like, “This isn’t even a full-term baby. No. No, no, no.” He goes, “Well, this is when they do it. It’s just easier. If you want a VBAC, as long as you go into labor before the C-section then we’re good.”

    Meagan: 37 weeks?! How rare is it that people go into labor? I mean, it happens. We know this but it’s not very common that the body just spontaneously goes into labor before 37 weeks and then we have a baby going into labor at 37 weeks and we’re concerned because before 37 weeks, we’re not full-term. Interesting.

    Morgan: Exactly. I was like, “No. No, no, no.” I was so upset after that appointment. I was like, “First off, my body would never go into labor before that.” I mean, sure. I’m speaking in exacts. 

    Meagan: Didn’t you say that your first one was 41+5?

    Morgan: Right, 41+5 for my first. With my second, I had no contractions. I mean, he was transverse, but I had no contractions before 40 weeks so I was like, “There’s no way my kids are coming early. That’s just proven to be wrong for my body so far.”

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Morgan: I left that appointment and I was really frustrated with it. I started doing work. I started doing research on where are the risks, what are the risks, and getting myself familiar with it. I started being in that defensive zone where I was having to prove myself. I found your website. I found your blog. I started listening to every single episode. I mean, it just gave me so much knowledge on where to look and what to look out for and the bait-and-switch that you were calling it. I was like, “This is me! This is what’s happening.” So I did. I researched and defenses were up at that point which is unfortunate because you don’t want to be in a defensive situation. 

    Meagan: It is unfortunate, exactly. It’s so hard because again, we’ve talked about this on the podcast. We don’t want to have to walk in with our arms up and be ready to punch. It’s not what we should be doing. We just want it to be a nice, cohesive relationship where the provider is listening and we are listening to the provider because it’s also important for us to listen to the provider. They did go to medical school for a reason but at the same time, we also have to know that sometimes what those providers are saying is maybe skewed based on their own experience or maybe whatever. I don’t know. We’ve had providers tell people that they have a 30% chance of rupturing after one Cesarean. We have to still be aware that there is more information but we should never feel like we always have to have our wall up and our fists ready. It shouldn’t be like that and it’s unfortunate that sometimes it is. 

    Morgan: Right, right. So after that appointment, I had already known I wanted a doula, but I was adamant about getting a doula with this one as well. I found one and she was amazing. She had been a doula for a VBAC before so she had also pointed me toward research and was ready to help me. She really was. She was awesome through this whole event and the whole birth. 

    Time continued to progress. I remember going and taking my older kids to Chuck E. Cheese one day. They were off doing their thing with all of the arcade games and I’m on my phone. I’m listening to a podcast. I’m scrolling through ACOG research and I’m like, “I don’t want just the bulletin. I want the research behind it.” I’m doing all of this on my phone trying to find it all and I found it. I found what I was looking for. It was not just the risk of a VBAC and the risk of a second C-section. It was, “What happens when a person has already had a vaginal birth?” It’s a conditional probability, right? I’m a numbers person. I had already had a vaginal birth. Then it looks up, “What are those risks for a person to have a VBAC and a person to have a C-section?” When a person had already had a vaginal birth, the risks for a uterine rupture and the risk for mortality were actually so far below what the normal risk levels were. They were actually below your first birth. So if you’re a first-time mom and you’re having a first-time vaginal birth and you still have the mortality risk and you still have the uterine risk, my risk was lower than that because I already had a successful vaginal birth. 

    Those were the risk levels he was working on. I was using his research and I was like, “No, no, no. You can’t tell me my risk levels are extraordinarily high when your own research that you are following tells me that I’m actually safer. I’m in a less risky stance now than when I had my first child.” I was even more adamant at that point to go towards a VBAC. I told him, “I will not have a C-section at 37 weeks.” I think it was your podcast that helped me advocate for myself in terms of standing up to a doctor. I have advocated in many other situations like law enforcement, school, or whatever but doctors were a whole new ballgame for me. To be able to say, “This is my right and this is my voice and I get to make this decision,” was a little intimidating before. 

    Meagan: Oh absolutely. 

    Morgan: I learned how to do it. So over the course of 3 or 4 weekly appointments at that point, I had rescheduled and rescheduled and rescheduled until finally, I got him to 41 weeks for a C-section. That was with the threat of going to another provider who I did go see on my own who was willing to induce with a mild amount of Pitocin, was willing to wait until 41+4 for a C-section, and was just on board with the concept. 

    I had gone to see them and the unfortunate part was that they were not in the network so while I could pay a little bit of that bill, I couldn’t pay the what-if part of it. Like what if things go bad and I have to be in the hospital? All of that wouldn’t have been covered. 

    Meagan: Which is so hard. 

    Morgan: That would have been tens of thousands. 

    Meagan: That’s so hard when we are restricted by insurance. 

    Morgan: Yes and I was. Tricare is very restrictive. You don’t get to go choose another doctor just because you don’t like this one on Tricare Prime. You are stuck and I was. I went back to him and said, “I don’t want to be here right now but I can’t be anywhere else. I can walk into an emergency room and have a birth that way.” I was totally fine with doing that so I told him, “This is where I am. I am not happy with your care for me right now. I don’t think that you’re listening to me. I’ve seen another provider that tells me that this is possible and I also know that there is a wonderfully VBAC-friendly hospital in Washington D.C. I will easily drive past yours to go to that emergency room if I need to,” because that’s where I was bound within our insurance needs. 

    He listened. He listened then and he said, “Okay.” So that’s where 41 weeks came. He did, though, say, “I’m not going to give you Pitocin.” I did learn that was his decision. He felt that–

    Meagan: You have to respect that is his opinion. Yeah. 

    Morgan: Right. He gets to determine what is safe in his mind and he thought a C-section was safe. He did not think that Pitocin was safe. I was like, “Fine. That’s fine.” So we waited. We waited until 41 weeks for a C-section. Through that time period, I continued with the monitoring appointments that they want high-risk women to do. So two times weekly, I was going to the hospital. Not his appointment area, but the hospital where they had a clinic. 

    Meagan: The non-stress tests and stuff?

    Morgan: Yes. All the non-stress tests. It was the non-stress tests where you have 20 minutes of checking the heartbeat and then always an ultrasound as well where they were checking the amniotic fluid levels. After all of these things got done, it took about an hour and I would meet with the doctor who would go over the information with me. That was one-on-one time. I think there were three or four doctors there doing all of the work. 

    I ended up getting to see this one doctor pretty regularly. She was great at answering my questions so I asked her all of the time, “Where are your numbers for amniotic fluid? You are telling me I have an amniotic fluid level. In my world of work with the Coast Guard, then that means there is a risk level if it goes too high or too low so I want to know where your levels are. If you’re giving me a number on amniotic fluid, what’s the high level and what’s the low level?”

    They told me. They said that the low level was 5.5. I have no idea what the measures of unit are but I know 5.5. I kept going and kept going. Everything was always perfect. 

    On Friday around 40 weeks, she was starting to get worried about a VBAC. This is again a different doctor. At that point, I had already gotten my membranes stripped once. I was dilated to 1 and I was still up a little higher. So there was no movement. There were no contractions, nothing but everything was still fine. All of the levels were still fine. On that Friday, my amniotic fluid was a 9 so it had dropped, I think, by 2. It was 11 that week and by Friday it was a 9. 

    I had been busy but it was still above the 5.5. Everything was fine. She said, “We should admit you.” I said, “What are you going to do if you admit me?” They couldn’t answer me.

    Meagan: Because they’re not willing to give you Pitocin so they’re not willing to induce your labor. So what is admitting going to do I guess other than signing up for the Cesarean at that point?

    Morgan: Right, right. So I was like, “Are you just going to let me sit in a room for days on end until I go into labor naturally?” 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Morgan: Is there a time limit for that? She couldn’t answer those questions. So I said, “You know, I’m okay. I’m going to go home.” So we went. We agreed that I would come back on Monday. I would do a lot of drinking water and Gatorade and I would come back in on Monday and see if that changed my amniotic fluid level. 

    So I did. I came back in first thing on Monday and again, everything was fine in terms of how they had prescribed the numbers to me ahead of time. So fetal kick counts, fine. Baby’s heartbeat, fine. The non-stress test and everything there was fine. The amniotic fluid level was at a 7. It had gone back down a little bit further but it was still above the 5.5. 

    At this point, she called in the on-call doctor for my provider’s group which was another female and we said, “Let’s just do another check right here to see if I’m dilated any further.” I was okay with that. So she did. I hadn’t dilated any further but the baby had dropped some at that point. I was happy with that because the baby needs to drop first before you start dilating. That helps it. 

    Meagan: Yep. 

    Morgan: But they didn’t see that as anything. They were only looking at dilation. I said, “I’m good. I don’t feel like I need to be here. Everything is fine.” They said, “Well, you haven’t started dilating further.” I’m like, “Well, it’s not like you dilate 10 centimeters over the course of 10 weeks. That’s not how it works.”

    Meagan: Nope. Nope. Dilating needs some contractions a lot of the time too. 

    Morgan: Right, right. We’re having this weird conversation where they’re telling me that I’m in trouble and I’m just not seeing it. There’s no urgency in their voice. There’s no actual concern in any of the testing that was happening and again, I’m asking again, “Well, what are you going to do if you admit me today?” They again can’t tell me an answer. So I said, “I’m going to go make a call.”

    I called my doula and we had a long conversation. At that point, we really thought, “If I had to go back again on Tuesday or Wednesday, it was just going to get worse with them urging me and urging me and how much stress did I want to add on for them to do that?” We were getting close to that 41-week C-section date at that point. So even doing all of the things, right? All of the induction things that you do. You’re pumping and you’re doing the red raspberry leaf tea–

    Meagan: Walking, yes. 

    Morgan: All of the walking, everything. Nothing had changed, right? I went back to the doctor and I said, “I’m not going to be admitted today. I am going to go home.”

    We went home and we went to our last resort of induction which was taking the Cytotec, that weird horrible tasting stuff. 

    Meagan: Castor oil?

    Morgan: Castor oil. Taking castor oil. Cytotec is that horrible drug that induces miscarriage. It was castor oil. So I did two tablespoons of castor oil in a milkshake. It was Ben and Jerry’s peanut butter. I wanted a really strong, intense taste to get rid of the castor oil taste. I told my doctor ahead of time that I was probably going to do that. I wasn’t trying to hide it. 

    Meagan: Yeah, you weren’t sneaking around. 

    Morgan: I did it. That was what I had for dinner that night at 6:30 and at 10:30, I had to go to the bathroom. At 11:30, contractions started. We were home and the kids– both boys were in bed at that point. We were just in labor. I went to the bathroom a few times. At some point, I said, “I really want to be in the bath,” so I went to the bath. I had a nice warm bath and I stayed in the bathtub probably for 45 minutes or so. 

    Then I said, “I need to go to the bathroom again,” and that was when it probably felt like starting to push at that point but we weren’t sure if it was still the remnants of castor oil or if it was literally pushing. Our doula had said, “You’ll probably feel the castor oil effects for that first hour of labor.” We were still in that first hour so I was like, “Okay. Okay.” But Dave, bless him. He saw a change in me that I didn’t see. He saw me get into a more determined working mode in my face. 

    He called my doula and he called my sister. He got everybody in motion. My sister was going to come to watch the boys so that we could get to the hospital when the contractions were around five minutes. My first vaginal birth was 14 hours so that’s what I was expecting. I thought it would be somewhere around 12 hours or so for this one. By the time my doula got there 30 minutes later, I was crawling on the floor. She said, “Let’s just see how you’re doing.” I must have looked like the devil because I said, “We’re going to the hospital,” while I’m crawling. 

    Then I had a contraction while she was right there and she was like, “Whoa. You’re pushing, Morgan.”

    Meagan: Whoa.

    Morgan: “We need to go to the hospital. You’re right.” I was like, “Okay, okay. Let’s go.” That was one contraction. In between that next contraction, we got dressed. That contraction happened and then the next one. These are about two to three minutes apart at this point. 

    Meagan: Really close, yeah. 

    Morgan: I’m crawling to the end of my bedroom. I had another contraction at the top of the stairs. After that one was done, I walked down my flight of stairs and I got to the front door. I had another contraction and by then, my doula Bridget said, “You’re not going to make it to the hospital. We have to have this baby here.” “Okay.”

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Morgan: Yeah. Dave calls 9-1-1. Fairfax County has an amazing fire system set up so we were expecting them within seconds. They did. They probably got there five minutes later from our call. 

    Meagan: Wow. that’s fantastic. 

    Morgan: They’re really fast but I had already had the baby by then. 

    Meagan: Oh no way!

    Morgan: Yeah. He was out looking for them to show up and I had the baby one contraction later. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Morgan: Kori comes out. 

    Meagan: So he missed the birth. 

    Morgan: He did. He was outside getting the ambulance and firetruck to come. So Bridget was in there and she’s like, “Morgan, you’re baby’s coming. Catch your baby.” I was like, “Oh.” So I reached down and I was on my hands and knees. I reached down and caught her. She was still fully inside the amniotic sac. 

    Meagan: She was born en caul?

    Morgan: Yeah.

    Meagan: Oh, so cool!

    Morgan: Yeah. There was no water rupturing or anything so she was fully inside her sac. Bridget had said, that’s the doula. She said, “She’s inside your amniotic sac. You need to open that up.” So I remember opening it up and having the water come out around her and fall to the floor. We had gotten some towels down. Then she screams and I just bring her up onto my chest and hold her. She’s bright and pink and everything is fine. I felt wonderful. 

    Meagan: I bet. 

    Morgan: It was such a great experience. There was no scariness to it. I wasn’t worried about being at home. I felt really in control of the entire process. I knew what was happening. I knew my body was working the way it was supposed to work so I wasn’t worried about the pain. There was a lot of pain but it wasn’t like pain. It wasn’t like someone was pinching me. It was intentional work. It really honed me in on what was happening and it was just amazing. I loved every minute of it. 

    I’m holding her on my chest and two minutes later, nine big firemen come running over. I’m naked. I’m naked. I’m breastfeeding because I had taken off my bra at that point. I’m breastfeeding. I’m just sitting there against the coat closet. 

    Meagan: And your husband was probably like, “Uhhh.” 

    Morgan: Dave is right there. He’s right next to me at that point. It has to be nine or so. It was definitely a full firetruck and an ambulance and it was all men. They all walk in and I was mortified. I was like, “Oh my god.” Everything about my toned, intact, powerful, and in-control birth just went out the window. 

    They got me a blanket so I covered up and they were ready to cut the cord. I said, “Let’s just hold. Let’s just hold off for a minute,” and they did. They let me hold off on cutting the cord. 

    Meagan: Beautiful. 

    Morgan: We let all of the blood drain out. I breastfed. I made sure we got that in and then eventually again, Bridget was so good because she kept a really good awareness of everything that was happening in the situation. She said, “You know, you haven’t delivered the placenta yet so we need to go to the hospital.” I was like, “Oh, right.” 

    In the big transition, I had lost my big, powerful, intact mode of doing what I knew I needed to do and I switched to covering up my body and all of that. I wasn’t in the zone.

    Meagan: Yeah, which is kind of telling if you think about it. When you’re vulnerable like that, you’re like, “I forget that I have this other part of birth that I need to take care of,” because you’re just so protective of yourself. 

    Morgan: Right. Right, yep. So we walked out to the ambulance and I did. I walked out to the ambulance holding her and we got there. We had a 20-minute ride. At some point in that ride, I thought I needed to get the placenta out but I couldn’t. I was by myself. I didn’t know these people. I felt too vulnerable to be able to do it there. 

    Meagan: You didn’t feel safe, yeah. 

    Morgan: We get to the hospital and the ER decides that they don’t need me. I’m not an emergency at this point so they take me up to labor and delivery. The doctor that I had seen earlier, the day before because it was a 24-hour shift, she’s the one that was still on call. She said, “Okay, well we have to get the placenta out.” She was doing this in a very rushed, not pleasant way. She was upset with me because I didn’t listen to her earlier and now I’m coming in on an ambulance. I could tell that she was mad. 

    She said, “We can do this here or we can do it in surgery.” I said, “Well, let’s do it here. I don’t need to go into surgery if I don’t need to. You can give me an IV, put a little Pitocin in me and let’s go. I know that’s how you do that to get the placenta out.” At this point, there’s no issue with uterine rupture because the baby is already out so Pitocin should be fine. But that is not what happened. 

    I said, “Yeah, we’ll do it here.” The next thing you know, she sticks her entire hand all the way into my uterus. I am in so much pain and she rips out the placenta and with it, she ripped open my uterus. 

    Meagan: *Gasps*

    Morgan: I screamed. It hurt so much. I handed Kori, who is my little girl, over to Dave at that point. Bridget was just floored. She tells me this afterward because I passed out. 

    Meagan: I’m sure you were in shock. 

    Morgan: I must have been. She went over and went out of the room and yelled to get help even though the doctor was in there. There was another doctor that was nearby. It was the anesthesiologist who came in. She said, “No, no, no. We’re not doing this here. We’re going into surgery.” My doula took a picture of my blood pressure or my heart, whatever it is. The blood pressure monitor at the time. I was at 50/20. 

    Meagan: I’m sure your heart rate was through the roof. 

    Morgan: Yeah. It must have been. 

    Meagan: You were in shock. 

    Morgan: It was bad. They took me back to surgery and I did come back when I was in surgery. I remember feeling pain like they were moving my legs all around. I was telling them, “You’re hurting me. You’re hurting me. Get me under. You’re hurting me.” I had five D&Cs at this point in my life so I knew what they were supposed to feel like which is easy. They’re not supposed to hurt at all. I was supposed to be under and I wasn’t. I was telling them, “You’re hurting me.” 

    I remember that it was either the anesthesiologist or the nurse. I couldn’t see who was next to me, but they were saying, “She’s not under. Stop. She’s not under.” So finally, I did get under and I had to have a big blood transfusion because of all of the blood loss that I had. 

    Meagan: Blood loss because of your uterus, yeah. 

    Morgan: They stitched me up–

    Meagan: Stitched your uterus?

    Morgan: Yep. Whatever they had to do. I don’t even know what they did but I still have my uterus. It’s still in there. 

    Meagan: Which is great. 

    Morgan: Yes. Yeah. They fixed whatever they needed to fix. That same doctor fixed whatever they needed to fix. I went to recovery. I woke up maybe four or five hours later and it was my doctor that was on call by then. He had said, “You’re lucky you still have your uterus.” I was like, “Well, I shouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with.” I definitely shouldn’t have had a hand go into me the way that it did. 

    18 hours later, I walked out of that hospital. I went home. I was discharged. I felt fine. The blood transfusion worked wonders. 

    Meagan: Yeah. I’m sure it made you feel better. 

    Morgan: Yeah, and now two years later, I’m allowed to donate blood too so I do regularly because of that. I did before but now I totally recognize that need and do it. But I look back at my birth story and I think about the home birth. I don’t really think about what happened at the hospital too much but I do think about how amazing that home birth was and how wonderful it was to have the people near me that were fully a team. 

    Everyone that was there was there for me and it was an amazing team. It was just an amazing birth. I loved it. I knew I could do that. I knew I could do an unmedicated, vaginal birth and I did. Man, it was awesome. 

    Meagan: An unmediated, vaginal birth en caul too!

    Morgan: Yeah, yeah. 

    Meagan: Oh man. That is so amazing. What you said, you hold onto the home birth. You hold onto that experience. I think sometimes we have to hold onto those experiences. I had kind of a really wonky experience. I don’t know if I’ve talked much about it. I need to do an episode and talk about my postpartum but after I had my son, my VBAC, my body went into some weird shock too and I kept passing out actually. We don’t really know to this day. I didn’t bleed externally or internally. We don’t really know what happened and it’s been really frustrating to me to know that and it’s there. It’s in my mind just like this hospital experience. 

    Obviously, this insane uterine/placenta issue that shouldn’t have happened like you said is in your mind but then you’re holding on to this over there and that’s what I do. I hold onto my VBAC because I do still wonder what happened or whatever. You’re like, “Yeah, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but I’m holding onto this HBAC technically.” It was an unplanned HBAC. That is sometimes where we have to go. We just have to hold onto the good. We have to hold onto the good because there is so much good that outweighs potentially the bad. 

    Morgan: Right, right. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yeah. Congratulations. Congratulations. 

    Morgan: Thank you. 

    Meagan: I’m sorry that your husband missed it. 

    Morgan: I know. He did. He walked in right afterward and then my sister came right after the firemen to watch the kids. I mean, it all worked out. It was great. Even the boys got to see her before we went to the hospital. My older son, Zach, was just wonderful. He came over and just connected with her right away. Cooper who was five at the time was like, “Oh, firetrucks!” 

    Meagan: Firetrucks! That’s cool!

    Morgan: He’s like, “Awesome! Firetrucks. Can I go back to bed?” I was like, “Yep.” It was neat. It was perfect. It was the perfect home birth even as unexpected as it was. It was wonderful. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, well congratulations. Congratulations. 

    Morgan: Thank you. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about AFI which is the amniotic fluid because you were getting into this space of, “Oh, they’re getting concerned. Oh, let’s admit you. You’re at a 9.” I think you were at a 7 maybe when they were like, “Oh, let’s admit you.” 

    Morgan: They started at 9 on the first day. It was like, “You’re at 9. Let’s admit you.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yeah, okay. 

    Morgan: I said, “No.”

    Meagan: I’m glad my memory is not too far off. 

    Morgan: You’ve got it. 

    Meagan: But yes. Let’s talk about that because something that can happen and it doesn’t always happen but it can happen when we’re doing non-stress tests or things like this very commonly in the end is that they’re paying attention to this AFI. Sometimes that is one of the factors that pushes people to being induced. Not push reluctantly, but it’s the ticket for induction for a lot of providers so let’s talk about it. You love numbers and you talk about 5.5. A lot of providers will even say 5-25. 25 is high so after 25, we’re looking at high fluid which is also another concern for providers if we have too much fluid. 

    But after 24 weeks of pregnancy, it’s most common for them to measure an AFI. They usually don’t pay attention to it before 24 weeks but they sometimes do after. It is normal for it to be anywhere from 5-25. The question is, okay. Say you’re at 6. Say you’re at 7. What do we do? Do we have to induce? No, we don’t. You are proof of that. We do not have to induce. What can we do to help with amniotic fluid? Are there other ways?

    You mentioned drinking Gatorade and water. Definitely increasing your fluid can make a huge difference. We’ve had a client go in and she was actually at 6, just above 5. She was like, “I just want to go home tonight. I’ll come back tomorrow. Obviously, I’ll come back in if baby’s not very active or anything like that.” She went home and she drank magnesium, like Mag-calm, and a lot of fluids. She went back in and it had gone up. It was just above 7 so not a ton, but it had gone up. They were like, “Oh, okay.” She was like, “I feel good about this.” 

    She kept doing that. She kept going in for non-stress tests and fluid checks. Fortunately, it continued to stay just fine. Then sometimes it doesn’t and we don’t know exactly why, but hydration is super helpful for upping amniotic fluid levels. Salt can help us retain that a little bit. But yeah. And then getting actual IV fluids. Did they ever offer for you to get IV fluids or anything like that?

    Morgan: No. Wouldn’t that have been helpful? Huh. Yeah, they didn’t. I didn’t even think about it. You’re right. That would have been really helpful. 

    Meagan: Yeah, so sometimes when we’re ingesting through our mouth, we don’t retain the fluid as much but sometimes via IV, we can and it can be really helpful if we’re dehydrated. I’ve been dehydrated before and I’m drinking, I’m drinking, and I’m drinking but it’s not seeming to help then I’ve gotten into Instacare and gotten an IV and it was boom. Night and day, it felt so much better. That can really improve by getting an IV fluid. So you can be like, “Hey, I want to get an IV fluid. I want to get some fluids.” 

    Sometimes, low amniotic fluid can be caused by underlying conditions like high blood pressure or maybe if they’re a diabetic patient. I actually don’t know exactly if gestational diabetes can affect it but I would assume probably. Treating these and checking in with blood sugars and making sure our blood pressure is good can also help our fluid levels and our hydration just by checking in and making sure there aren’t any preexisting things. 

    Then if we have moms that are dropping dramatically by 5 points or whatever, that could be something where we just do bed rest. We just chill. Just don’t do anything to exert our body. And then of course except for eating and going to the bathroom, showering, and taking care of ourselves, we aren’t out and about going to Chuck E. Cheese but that doesn’t mean going to Chuck E. Cheese lowers your amniotic fluid, I’m just saying we are literally doing nothing. That can sometimes help increase amniotic fluid as well and of course, stay hydrated. 

    Then diet. Diet. Getting more lean protein and whole grains and really fresh fruits and vegetables can also– there’s not a ton of really heavy evidence within this but there is some evidence that shows it can impact your amniotic fluids which is kind of crazy. You’re like, “Oh, food.” But hydration and stuff come through food and it gives back to our body. So anyway, there are others out there and everything but those are some tips on how to raise amniotic fluid and help. 

    Like you said, you felt very comfortable, very comfortable where you were at. 

    Morgan: I did. 

    Meagan: Yes. That’s still another leading factor. We always have to check in with our gut. Always, always, always. Morgan says, “Okay. I’m feeling good about this. I’ve done the research. I know the numbers. I’m a numbers gal. I feel good. I feel good about this.” Look what happens, right? But it is hard. I would love to know any opinion that you have or anything that you would like to share because it is really hard. You spoke about it earlier. Having that conversation and where your research started and learning how to advocate for yourself which you did very much so. 

    I mean, it would have been very easy for you to schedule a Cesarean at 37 weeks or it would have been really easy for you to schedule a Cesarean at 39 or 40. But any tips that you have for our listeners to really, truly advocate for themselves? Again, we talked about how we don’t want to go in with our punching gloves. We don’t want to be punching and be combative back and forth but we want to have that really healthy relationship saying, “This is what your practice of obstetricians and gynecologists says. Let’s talk about this. Let’s have this conversation.”

    Morgan: Yeah. It was a hard conversation. I would say it was not one that ended in one appointment. That actually made it hard too because you’ve got a 30-minute appointment and you have to stop this conversation and start it a week or two weeks later. But every time, I really thought ahead of time. It was not a spur-of-the-moment discussion point for me. It was one that was planned. I wrote down exactly what I wanted to discuss beforehand so that we could really have that conversation and we could get through it in the amount of time that he had available. 

    I do want to still be respectful and respect his schedule. I want to respect the other women that are there that need care as well. I also wanted to hear from him on why he wouldn’t do Pitocin, why he was worried about wanting to be so far in front of 40 weeks, or not wanting to go past 41 weeks. I got the answers to those things. Some of them I agreed with and some of them I didn’t, but really these decisions on pushing the C-section date back to 41 weeks, he ended up being okay with after all of the discussion and me saying, “Look, I don’t care about scheduling. I don’t care if it’s first thing in the morning. You’re assuming that I want to get in on the schedule at 8:00 AM but I don’t. I don’t care about that. If it has to be 3:00 in the afternoon, whatever. I want it to be at 41 weeks. That’s more important to me than an 8:00 AM scheduling of stuff.” 

    I did go to the other doctor and get a second opinion but I had to pay that $300 for that appointment. 

    Meagan: To do that, yeah. 

    Morgan: Right, right. 

    Meagan: I love that you mention how it’s so easy on both parties, on the birthing parents' side and the provider’s side to just assume, “You don’t want to fast all day because when you have a scheduled Cesarean, you have to fast so you want an 8:00 AM Cesarean, don’t you?” But it’s so important to say what you mean and where you’re at so there is no assuming. They know. They know where you’re at. 

    Morgan: Right. Right. 

    Meagan: I mean the same thing with providers. I encourage them to not just assume that the patient wants something but also talk about where they’re at. Like you said, you could have that conversation and be like, “I can see that. I can see that 100%. This is where I’m at,” and then you guys can have that meeting ground. 

    It’s so important. It’s really hard, you guys. It’s really, really hard when you are in that space because we don’t want to go against a medical provider. We don’t want to fight. We don’t want to say, “You’re wrong.” That’s just not the position we ever want to be in but if there’s something that’s deeply in your gut and you’re like, “No. This is not what I’ve found out,” or “No. This is not what I’m okay with,” then have that conversation. I encourage you to have that conversation because that is going to better your relationship with your provider. 

    Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. 

    Meagan: Well, thank you so much. 

    Morgan: Thank you. 

    Meagan: Thank you so much for being here with us and sharing your beautiful story. I’m sorry that happened at the hospital but I’m so glad that you were able to leave pretty quickly and get back to your family at home. 

    Morgan: Yeah, me too. I did not like that. But when I look at everything that happened, it was a wonderful story. I got my baby girl. Our family is complete and I’m just in awe of what a woman’s body can do. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Absolutely. We are true women of strength. 

    Morgan: Absolutely. 

    Meagan: No matter how we birth, we are women of strength. I full-on believe that. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day. 

    Morgan: Thank you. You too. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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    1h 2m | May 31, 2023
  • Episode 236 Carlise's VBAC + Signing an AMA

    When the empowering VBAC experience she envisioned took a hostile and combative turn, Carlise knew she needed to change birth locations immediately. Though signing an AMA was not something she thought she would ever have to do, Carlise found the strength to fight for the birth she deserved. Her thorough research and supportive husband and doula gave her the confidence to not tolerate a doctor’s inappropriate behavior.

    Meagan shares the pros and cons regarding AMA forms to help you feel educated if you find yourself in a situation similar to Carlise. While it was extremely difficult, leaving that first hospital during labor was ultimately what allowed Carlise to have her beautiful, unmedicated VBAC!

    Additional Links

    Carlise’s Instagram

    AMA Article

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, hello. You are listening to The VBAC Link and we have another story for you today. We have our friend Carlise and she is from all over the place but she is in Texas currently. This is where you had your VBAC. In Texas?

    Carlise: Yeah, so both of my pregnancies have been here in El Paso, Texas. 

    Meagan: Perfect. She had a VBAC in Texas and she had a wild journey kind of similar to a month or two ago, I want to say maybe it was Morgan where she had to sign an AMA and leave while in active labor. We are going to talk a little bit about AMAs today as well in addition to her VBAC because it’s something that we don’t talk about a ton. If you don’t know what AMA is, it’s against medical advice. That is a form that we would have to sign to pretty much say that we are leaving against medical advice but sometimes we are put in situations– and I’ll share a story that I’ve been to as a doula– where we feel that we have to sign these AMAs. 

    Review of the Week

    In this situation, you signed the AMA and went on to another hospital and had a VBAC and a different experience. So we’ll talk a little bit about AMAs but first, we have a Review of the Week as always. Just a reminder, if you haven’t left a review, we would love your review. You can leave it on Apple Podcasts or on Google. You can just search for The VBAC Link on Google. You can email us at info@thevbaclink.com or wherever you listen to your podcasts. We love your reviews. 

    This is from runnervt. It says, “This podcast helped me get my VBAC.” It says, “I started listening to The VBAC Link to process my Cesarean due to breech presentation. It helped so much to hear women put into words all that I had thought and felt. Then I listened to it in preparation for my VBAC. Today, 8/7/22 and there were times I thought that my VBAC was slipping away but I was able to be prepared and get a little lucky and pushed out my 9-pound baby in 48 minutes with no tearing!” It says, “Thank you so much. Talk about the feeling of being superhuman. Thank you so much, Julie and Meagan.”

    I love that, superhuman. You are all superhumans. Birth is just so wild. Wouldn’t you agree, Carlise? It is such a crazy experience but it is so amazing. It is so beautiful. It is crazy to think about how different births can be. 

    Carlise: 100%. It’s crazy. 

    Meagan: Between one baby to another or say you have five babies and you’re like, “Yeah, this has been the same.” I have a friend who has had her 5th baby. She was like, “Okay. I have had easy peasy births” and all of these things, and her 5th baby was a Cesarean. She was like, “That came out of left field.” It was a whole crazy thing. She was really sick and baby was really tangled in her cord. But yeah. It’s wild. It’s wild to think just how the unexpected can happen so I think it’s so important to listen to stories just like the one that we are going to be sharing today and all of the stories on the podcast so you can get a better grasp and understanding of childbirth, how it looks, the interventions, and all of the things that can happen in childbirth. 

    Sometimes it’s really hard to listen to those Cesarean stories for sure because you’re not wanting another Cesarean or if you’re a first-time mom listening to the podcast which we do have first-time parents listening to the podcast, it’s hard to want to listen to those because it’s not what you’re preparing for or it’s not what you think would ever happen but like 90% of us on this podcast, we didn’t think a Cesarean would happen either so it’s so, so, so important for us to learn all of the ways birth can come at us. 

    We are going to get to your story but I would love to know if you have anything that you would like to add in the beginning of advice to the parents listening. 

    Carlise: I think just doing as much research as you can possibly do and know that you may have some pushback in getting your VBAC or the birth that you want in general. But be confident in that research and also share that with your spouse or your support. Let them know, “Hey, this can happen or these are choices that we might have to make,” so that everybody’s educated and everybody goes in the room knowing what can happen because anything can prep for all of it but you’ve got it and it’ll be fine. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yep. I love it.

    Carlise’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay. Well, we are going to get into this story but first, I just want to quickly introduce you a little bit more. We talked about how you are in Texas but you are from a small town in Missouri where you met your husband right after high school which is so awesome. You have been married for six years. You’ve lived in Alabama, Germany, and now Texas. You are a stay-at-home-mama providing stability for your girls. You have the two girls. What are their ages?

    Carlise: My oldest daughter is two and we just had Amelia last month so they are almost exactly two years apart. 

    Meagan: Two years apart. That is so awesome. Your husband is an Active Duty Pilot?

    Carlise: Yes. He flies Apaches.

    Meagan: Yes. That’s so awesome. That’s really, really cool. I am so grateful to you for being with us today and I would love to turn the time over to you to share your VBAC story. 

    Carlise: All right. My first pregnancy was super uncomplicated. There weren’t any issues throughout the entire time. We actually got pregnant in Germany and then when we were PCSing or moving back to the States, I was 17 weeks. We didn’t have any issues. Then we got to about 34 weeks and baby was breech. They were like, “No, no. It’s good. It’s good. Baby can flip, whatever.” 

    I’m over here planning my vaginal birth, no problem. I have all this research done and then 35 weeks, still breech. 36 weeks, yep. Still breech. They gave me all of the things. ECV, moxibustion, Spinning Babies, and chiropractic care, but it was right in the middle of COVID so I couldn’t do chiropractic care. I couldn’t do acupuncture. I tried all of the things but she just wanted to be like a little taco. She was my little frank breech baby. 

    We scheduled a C-section for 40 weeks. She wanted to come at 38+4 so we had gone in because I had a very, very slow leak. It was slow enough to where I was like, “Okay. Is this my water? Is it not my water?” Yeah. Sure enough. 

    So when we got in, we had to wait a few hours because I had eaten that morning. We had a pretty uncomplicated C-section. The spinal took multiple different tries so that was horrible. The drain was at my collarbone so I didn’t get skin-to-skin after. All of the medication just made me super foggy and I straight up don’t remember the first two hours of my daughter’s life. I don’t remember latching her for the first time. It’s still really rough because that’s not the experience I wanted at all. 

    Meagan: Right. 

    Carlise: So when I got pregnant again 14 months later, honestly I walked into it a little naive because when I had done my research for my first pregnancy, I knew I wanted that vaginal birth. I had seen information on VBAC a lot actually when I was doing some of my research. I just kept seeing that it was a good thing. It was recommended by ACOG or whatever so I just thought that that was normal. 

    Meagan: You didn’t even question it. You’re like, “Okay, great.”

    Carlise: I didn’t even think about it. When I was trying to make my appointment on post because we have Tricare Prime and you have to be seen on post. They were like, “Yeah, no. We can’t get you in until you’re 17 weeks pregnant.” I was like, “No. That’s not going to work.” They pushed me into the network off post and that’s actually kind of what I wanted but little did I know, the military hospital is the most VBAC friendly. I didn’t know that at the time. 

    I had chosen an OB that everybody was like, “He’s great. He’s so good.” I was like, “Awesome.” At my first appointment with him, he sounded so supportive. He was like, “Yeah. You sound like a really good candidate.” He looked at my OP report. I was feeling really good about it. 

    Then every consecutive appointment with him, I think I had three legit appointments, he just kept saying, “C-section this. C-section that. Whenever you want to schedule a C-section–” and I’m like, “Yeah. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be a bait and switch here.” 

    Meagan: Which is a terrible feeling. It’s not a fun feeling when you’re like, “Why is everything switching?” 

    Carlise: Especially when he sounded so supportive, it was so disappointing, and then having to switch at 20 weeks, you’re like, “Okay, great.” Then, the anatomy scan that he did was literally less than five minutes. We both know that is not an anatomy scan. He pointed out major features. He didn’t look at the spine. He didn’t look at the heart. He didn’t look at any of these things. I was just feeling so uncomfortable with my care so I was like, “Yeah, no. I think I’m going to be done.”

    I was interviewing doulas and my doula had asked where this doctor delivered. I told her. The two hospitals that he delivers at have the highest rate of C-sections in the area as well as really, really bad reputations for episiotomies. Hearing her stories from being a doula at those hospitals was not great. I was like, “Okay, yeah. No, I’m going to switch now.” 

    I talked to her about where she recommended and she’s like, “Honestly, on post. If you can get back on post, that’s going to be the most recommended but if you can’t,” which I wasn’t able to, the university hospital was going to be the second best place to get the VBAC. I switched my care. My pregnancy was super uncomplicated again. At the university, I never saw the same doctor which I really didn’t want but I was just like, “Whatever. I’m going to do this whether or not I have a supportive provider, so it’s good. You’re just here to give me prenatal care.” 

    They were definitely more tolerant than fully supportive. They kept saying at every single appointment, “You’re going to get an epidural, right? You’re going to get an epidural.” I was like, “No.” They’re like, “Okay, well it’s just in case.” I hear that a lot.  But no, I’m planning on going unmedicated. They just kind of left it. 

    Then we got to about 38 weeks and my doula had called me. She’s like, “Hey, I just had a horrible experience at UMC. The nurses were really pushing back at everything that this first-time mom had wanted.” They didn’t treat her well and it just sounded super, super iffy. She’s like, “We can obviously still go. I just want you to be prepared that it might be something that we could encounter.” The whole time, I was like, “I just want to go to the military hospital.” I had my daughter there. I was really comfortable with the staff. I really liked their care. So I was like, “You know what? We’re just going to go to the military hospital in labor.” She was like, “Okay, cool. Sounds good.” 

    So that’s what we ended up trying. One day before 40 weeks, I went into labor super early in the morning. It was 1:30 in the morning. They were very odd contractions. It was like a rollercoaster for 24 hours. They started at ten minutes apart and then six but they would bounce around. They weren’t consistent at all. That just happened forever. I was just like, “I just want to be done.”

    Meagan: You’re like, “I’m tired.” 

    Carlise: I was so tired. I was trying all of the things like the Miles circuit and curb walking, playing with my daughter, and trying to rest. Nothing was working. My doula was like, “Do you think it’s a mental block? Do you think there’s something?” I was like, “No, I feel good. The TENS unit is amazing.” I baked a cake while I was in labor. I was just like, “I don’t understand.” She’s like, “You’ve got this. It’s fine. It’s going to progress. Just try to rest as much as you can.” 

    Then it was at 40 weeks at 1:30 in the morning that we started progressing a lot quicker. I was at 6 centimeters and I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to call the doula.” My husband ended up calling and while he was on the phone with her, they were just getting really, really intense. He was like, “Yeah. I think we’re ready for you to come.” 

    She started making her way. It was about a 45-minute drive. At about halfway for her, she calls and she’s like, “You know, Carli sounded like she was ready to go. Is she progressing?” Doug was like, “Yeah. It’s getting serious.” 

    She’s like, “Okay. Let’s just meet at the military hospital. Let’s meet there. I’ll meet you at the parking lot.” We go ahead and make our way over there. It’s about a 15-minute drive so it’s not too bad. 

    She gets there at the exact same time that we do. The doula had also let the hospital know that we were on our way. They were already expecting us. When we got to the L&D, the nurses took me back. They did all of the normal blood pressure. They hooked me up to the monitors. They asked me why I had decided to go to the military hospital in labor. I gave them my whole explanation and they were like, “Yeah. Okay, sounds good.” They were super nice and very supportive. I had also taken all of my labs with me, the GBS strep results, and all of the things as well as printed out my post-OP report for them to have as quick and easy access. 

    Meagan: Which as a side note is always good to have even if you’re not planning on going to another hospital because you never know if a precipitous labor happens or anything but it’s really nice and usually providers enjoy having that. It brings comfort. 

    Carlise: Yes so that’s why we brought it. They also had seen that I had been in triage two weeks before because my daughter wasn’t moving as much. I decided to go there so that way they could check the baby and also have me in the system already. I had talked to a doctor as well about coming there in labor. They asked me all of the things like if I knew the risks and benefits of VBAC, just took some medical history, and were very supportive. They were like, “Yeah, absolutely. We don’t mind you coming here in labor at all.” 

    I felt so confident. I felt so confident going in. The nurses had been like, “Okay, cool. Sounds good. Are you wanting an epidural? Are you wanting an IV?” I was like, “No. I don’t want an epidural. I just want a heplock. I’ve been able to keep down fluids and everything so I’m not having any issues with that. I just want a heplock.” They were like, “Cool.” So very supportive and nice nurses.

    They were like, “Okay. We’re going to get your support.” They went and got my doula and my husband and then they did a cervical check. At this point, my contractions were three minutes apart and very consistent. When they checked me, I was at 4 centimeters, 90% effaced, and -1 station. Baby was still up there a little bit. They also noticed some decels on the monitor. I was on my back and I was so incredibly uncomfortable. My daughter did not want me on my back. Every time I was on my back, it was awful. 

    We had asked the nurses if that was a possibility and they were like, “Yes, but you bought your ticket for admission because of those decels.” We’re like, “Okay, no problem.” We were expecting to get admitted anyways. So then the nurses were like, “Okay, we’re going to get the doctor but I want you to know that he’s very military.” My husband, my doula, and I are looking at each other and we’re like, “Hmm. That’s a weird way to describe a doctor. Okay.”

    We were just expecting very blunt and very upfront. While we were waiting, I was just so uncomfortable so I got up beside the bed by the nurses’ station and was just rocking. I was having a really hard time with my contractions at this point. My doula came up behind me and gave me hip compressions. 

    Then the doctor comes in. He doesn’t introduce himself. He’s not like, “Hi, how are you guys doing?” Literally nothing. He goes over to the doula and just goes, “And who are you?” The doula introduces herself and he’s just going on and on about how she’s in the way. He’s yelling at her like, “You’re in my way. You can’t be in my way. You can’t be in front of medical equipment.” She’s just helping me with a contraction so he’s not even recognizing or caring at all that I’m having contractions and that I’m in pain and she’s trying to help me. He’s just more concerned that she’s in the way. 

    So then she moves beside the bed and he looks at her and goes, “After the exam, we’re going to have a chat.” We’re like, “What is with this dude? Why is he being so aggressive?” So then the first thing that he says to me again just in a very disrespectful tone is, “Why are you here?” I’m like, “What a weird question to ask someone in labor.” I was like, “I’m in labor.” He goes, “No. Why are you at this facility when none of your prenatal care has been here at all?” 

    The nurse was trying to tell him because again, I’m having contractions pretty often but no. He wanted all of the answers from me. He was just being so aggressive and I told him the whole explanation that I had already told the nurses. I also mentioned, “You’re being really, really combative. You’re making me uncomfortable.” He’s like, “You know, I’m not trying to. That’s not my intention, but you need to understand the position that you’re putting me and this hospital in by changing your care at 40 weeks.” 

    I was like, “Okay. I’m sorry, but I’m already here.” He just goes on for 30 minutes about how we’re putting him in a precarious position and we need to understand this. We need to understand that. We don’t have your records. I was like, “Dude, I brought you all of my labs. I brought you my post-op. What else do you want? What else do you need?” 

    Again, he just keeps going on and on. Eventually, my husband was just like, “Okay, man. What do you need from us? Do I need to go to the other hospital and get your records? Can you request the records or can we just move on because we are getting nowhere?” The doctor was just like, “You need to understand.” I was just like, “Dude, we get it. We understand.” 

    After that, he was like, “Okay, well I need to see if you are intact” which is a very weird way to say that he needs to check my waters. For some reason, I just had the fog. I knew that it was a swab. My doula was like, “It’s okay. It’s just a swab. They’re just going to swab you to see if your water broke. It’s not a big deal.” The nurses are like, “We’re pretty sure that her water hasn’t broken yet.” He’s like, “No. I need to check myself.” 

    So they’re prepping the swab and then my doula hears him ask the nurse for lubricant. I could have sworn that he said something about a speculum but I’m not sure about that. My doula was like, “Hey, Carli. Do you consent to a cervical exam?” I was like, “Wait, no. No, no. I do not consent. I just had one not even ten minutes ago. So, no.” 

    So then the doctor starts yelling at the doula again and saying, “Stop. You don’t give medical advice.” Then I’m having a contraction and he’s accusing her of making medical decisions, of moving me before the doctor came in the room, but he didn’t like that I was beside the bed standing up. He thought that she did that. So then after the contraction, I was like, “Dude, no. She’s only acting on my behalf when I have asked her to do something. You really need to back off. No. I do not consent to a cervical exam.” 

    So then he explains why he wants to do a medical exam. 

    Meagan: Again, you had just had one not long ago. 

    Carlise: Right, exactly. 

    Meagan: A little backstory, guys. I was reading this story on social media and I remember when I was reading this, I was like, “Why? Why? Why?” Every time, in my head, I’m like, “Why do we need to do this? Why do we need to do this? They just did this.” I was putting myself in your situation. 

    Carlise: It was so aggravating. The fact that he was prepping the cervical check without talking to me first. The doula had to mention it. You’re like, “Okay, that’s a super big red flag. Thank you for letting me know,” because if she wasn’t there, my husband would have no idea. So he explains why he wants to do a cervical check again and I’m like, “No. I don’t want a cervical check.” 

    So then he goes and sits down, stops prepping any exam at all, and he’s like, “I’m a really good doctor but I need to be able to do my job.” I’m like, “Dude. I already said that you could do the swab to check my water. I’m not refusing your care. I just don’t want a cervical exam.” 

    He’s like, “No. You’re refusing my care. I have to do both in order to–”

    Meagan: Make an assessment. 

    Carlise: Make a decision. I was like, “Okay. I’m really uncomfortable with your insistence here. I want a new doctor. You’re not listening to me. You don’t seem to care that I’m having contractions every three minutes. I want a new doctor.” He goes, “There isn’t one.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “Yeah. I’m it.” So then the doula was like, “Okay. There has to be somebody on call. Can you go ahead and call them in?” So then he says, “Stop” again to her and says, “I do not engage with you.” 

    I was like, “Okay. I’m going to repeat the question. Can you call the person who’s on call please?” He was like, “No, there isn’t anybody on call. It’s just me. The next provider doesn’t get in until 8:00 AM.” At this point, it’s around 4:00ish. I was like, “Okay. Can I just labor with the nurses? Because you’re not touching me.” 

    Meagan: And the nurses were being so great. 

    Carlise: They kept trying to interject and answer questions for me but he wanted the answers from me. At that point, I was like, “Okay, dude. Just get out. Everybody needs to leave. I need to talk to my doula and my husband.” 

    They go ahead and leave. I’m like, “Okay. I don’t know what to do.” I’m freaking out. My doula was like, “It’s okay. You’re fine. We can stay here and deal with this dude. We can go ahead and just leave and go home. Your contractions are probably going to slow down since we’re dealing with this or we can go straight to the other hospital.” I was like, “Okay. Let’s definitely just leave. I’m done.” 

    We told him that we were leaving and he just seemed shocked. 

    Meagan: I’m sure. 

    Carlise: Just completely shocked. I was just like, “No. We’re leaving.” So then they were like, “You have to sign out AMA then.” I was like, “Cool. I’ll go ahead and do that. You’re not touching me.” We went ahead and signed the paper. As we were walking out, I’m having to stop every minute. The doula is like, “Okay. Yeah. We’ve got to go straight to the hospital.” 

    We ended up, and in mind fog, I was like, “I forgot my birth plan so we’re going to run home real fast. I’m going to get my birth plan.” That turned into an F-1 pitstop because I’m over here with really, really low sounding and having a rough time. Doug, my husband, is also freaking out. He’s like, “We’re going to have a car baby.” 

    Meagan: Oh yeah, I’m sure. 

    Carlise: He’s just panicking. So he’s speeding on the way to the other hospital. We get there and I had never gone through that entrance before. I had always gone in a different one on the back because my prenatal care was with Texas Tech and UMC, they’re right next to each other. So I always went into a different entrance. 

    So the entrance that we went into, I had no idea where to go. I’m over here. I swear I’m about to push and we don’t know where to go. This super nice lady who was coming into work was like, “Do you guys need a wheelchair?” Doug was going to say no! I’m like, “Yes. Yes, I do.” 

    So she gets a wheelchair. She brings us up to triage. As soon as we get up there and there was a trash can right next to the elevator. I’m just throwing up right next to the elevator. They’re trying to get Doug to fill out paperwork and have me sign things. I’m just kind of dying. Then I needed to go to the bathroom. I didn’t need to push. I just needed to go to the bathroom. 

    I go in there and my water breaks. My plug comes out. So then I’m just gripping the walls. I’m just blinded here by my contractions. So they get me into a triage bed and they’re like, “Oh yeah. Yep. Mhmm. She is ready to go. She is fully dilated. Baby is definitely ready.” The doula is over here like, “Okay, yeah. We need to switch her bed too.” So they switched me into a labor and delivery room. She’s calling all of the shots here because the lights were so bright. I’m over here like, “Oh man.” So she’s like, “Okay, those lights need to be dimmed. We need to take this gown off of her.” 

    She was taking off my TENS unit. They’re trying to put on monitors and I’m promptly trying to take them off so just being very unhelpful which I did not care about. So then they were trying to get the monitor on to check the baby. I was on my hands and knees which they did not want me on. I did not care. The doula is trying to help so she had reclined the bed so that I could lean over it so that way they could get the monitors on. That actually ended up working super, super well. 

    Then I was feeling the need to push. Then I was just really self-conscious because I was feeling like I needed to poop. I was just like, “Oh no. This is horrible.” She’s like, “No, that’s normal. It’s fine.” I was like, “No, I actually think I need to go.” So she’s like, “It’s fine. They’re going to catch it. Don’t even worry about it. Just focus on the baby right now. You’re okay.” She snapped me out of it. I was like, “Okay, we’ve got this.”

    I was pushing and they were like, “No, no, no, no. The doctor’s not in. Don’t push. Don’t push yet.” I was like, “I’m not not pushing so y’all need to figure it out.” So then the doula’s over here like, “She’s crowning. Baby’s crowning right now.” Then they’re just rushing in and I could feel the ring of fire. I was like, “Okay. I need to pause for just a minute,” because I could feel if I kept going that I was going to tear up. I honestly loved that I could feel that versus having an epidural and not being able to feel that. 

    Within another couple of pushes, baby was out and I didn’t have any tearing. I didn’t have any issues at all whatsoever. I did not get the Pitocin for the delivery of the placenta and I didn’t have the IV. I didn’t have anything, just honestly the most natural birth except for the hospital situation. 

    Meagan: Yeah, yeah. But no interventions other than maybe a cervical exam here and there. 

    Carlise: Exactly. It went super well honestly overall and I was so proud of myself because I was just like, “I did that and I was able to advocate for myself.” My doula was amazing. My husband was very supportive even though he was freaking out. 

    Meagan: Oh I’m sure. Yeah. 

    Carlise: He told his dad. He’s like, “It was super, super intense. The last couple of pushes, she sounded like a banshee and then baby was out.” I was like, “Wow, babe. Thank you. Thanks. That’s super sweet of you.” The nurses afterward kept coming in and they were like, “Okay, we need to drain your IV and we need to check your stitches.” I’m over here like, “No guys, I don’t have any of that.” They’re like, “Wow, okay. You’re the easy patient.” 

    That birth, I was able to feel her before she came out. That was amazing. She got right on my chest. Delivering the placenta was super easy. I love that I can remember it and I’m proud of myself. The first thing that I said after birth was very colorful which definitely included, “F that doctor” which we then had to be like, “No, no. Not you, ma’am. Sorry.”

    Meagan: Yeah, yeah. I can relate to that one because that’s what I said. I said, “Screw you,” and then I named the doctor. Take that. 

    Carlise: Mhmm. I was just amazed and then everybody that I tell when I’m like, “Yeah. I left the hospital at one-minute contractions,” and they’re like, “Oh, no.” I was like, “Yeah, no. I would rather have had a car baby legitimately–”

    Meagan: –than to go there. 

    Carlise: Absolutely not. I was so disappointed and the fact is that’s what we encountered. We put in all of the complaints that we could possibly put in and I’m still waiting on the head of OB to contact me but the doula had a really, really good meeting actually with the head of OB, a lot of the staff, the provost marshall apparently was in there as well. 

    Meagan: Wow. How did she connect? How did she go about doing that? 

    Carlise: Apparently, with doulas, there is a different system for them. I’m not entirely sure but there are different routes that they can go because they are professional birth workers. She had contacted the head of OB and then the head of OB was like, “Okay, this is really serious.” So I think they just coordinated together. The end of that resulted in a giant meeting with all of the OBs to basically educate them on what to do when a doula comes in. 

    Meagan: Oh wow!

    Carlise: And that doctor that we encountered has to go to those meetings. My doula’s teaching it. It’s a class. I was like, “Yeah man. You’re going to deal with that.” 

    Meagan: That’s actually really cool to help that space be a little bit more collaborative because I feel like we are a little spoiled here in Utah. People are like, “How do the doctors treat you and handle things when you are in there?” Usually nine times out of ten, it’s very friendly and it’s not hostile like that but if it were, I think that we would probably want to be doing something like that as well and say, “Hey, we are all here for this patient. We are all one team here. We’re not here to be combative and create trauma emotionally.” That’s really cool. That’s really awesome. Good for your doula. 

    Carlise: Yeah. I was so proud of her, especially being yelled at by a doctor. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yeah. 

    Carlise: She’s trying to advocate for me as much as she can but she also doesn’t want security called on her so she was having to find a balance between that. 

    Meagan: And she doesn’t want to make it any worse for you. 

    Carlise: Exactly. That was super, super odd. The fact that I meant to mention it in my story, but he had been quizzing me over VBAC facts, then he was telling me that I was wrong. I was just like, “What?” and just freaking out. She just helped me so much. I’m a huge advocate for doulas and having one and I 100% recommend anybody to have one for sure. My husband would have had just no idea exactly how to advocate for me in the way that my doula had. It was great. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like there are so many benefits of doulas but just like we were saying, she helped him too. She helped him through this process I’m sure to feel more comfortable and at ease with the things that were taking place. Even that alone whether you had a lot of help with counterpressure and stuff like that but being able to have a sounding board and someone there that you feel is on your team and it’s not you two against one person. I’m sure that brought so much comfort to him. 

    Carlise: 100%. The fact that the doula had also done some childbirth education with him so that he knew how baby comes out and the different stages as well. 

    Meagan: Yes and then when you have a provider questioning the facts around VBAC and you’re saying this and then they’re saying no or they’re shutting you down or they’re giving you false percentages which I know is a thing, that can be really, really scary if a partner is not educated or doesn’t know ahead of time. So that’s another really great pro of doulas is that they usually meet with you before, counsel, and go over all of those stats. 

    I remember the feeling. I literally was on the treadmill walking, trying to pass the time because I hate the treadmill, reading your story and I’m like, “Oh my gosh. This is just so intense. It’s so intense.” 

    Carlise: It was nuts. When I was trying to prep my husband for the VBAC, I’m pretty sure he just got really annoyed by me listening to this podcast all of the time. I’d be like, “Babe, you should have heard this from this mom.” He’s just like, “Ugh, I can’t wait until you’ve had the baby because I’m so done hearing about all of these VBACs all of the time and all of these stories.” But then honestly, it prepared him. I was like, “Babe, this can happen,” so when we were facing this doctor, he wasn’t second-guessing me at all. 

    When I told the doctor the different things that I knew about VBAC because he wanted to make sure that I knew, Doug was like, “No. She definitely knows the stuff. She could spout this off normally.” He was confident. That made me more confident and with my doula being there, it helped a lot. 

    Meagan: That makes me smile. I love it. Now you can be like, “Yeah, now I’m one of those people on the podcast.” 

    Carlise: Mhmm, yeah. He was like, “I get to hear this story for the 35th time.” 

    Meagan: I love it. 

    Carlise: I was like, “Last time, babe. Last time.” 

    Meagan: Last time. Maybe, maybe not. You’ll be sharing it for years. You’ll be sharing it for years. 

    Carlise: Exactly. 

    Meagan: Well I want to talk a little bit about the AMA, the Against Medical Advice form. It is one that like I said, maybe I’m crazy. It might have been a year ago actually that we talked about. It’s not one that happens often or that people maybe even know exists. I just want to give a little side note. It’s not something I suggest always doing like, “I’m just going to sign this AMA.” Against Medical Advice forms are taken pretty seriously but when you are in a combative, hostile environment, an AMA may be something that can get you out of that experience. 

    I, as a doula, was at a birth where a mom chose to sign an AMA. From a doula’s standpoint, it was really interesting. I was like, “I would have totally done that too as a mom.” We were very much in labor. It was very clear that we were in labor but the toco, the monitor, wasn’t picking up the contractions. 

    This doctor comes in very rudely and says, “You’re not even contracting. I don’t even understand why you’re here.” She looks at me and her husband. She’s like, “I’m contracting, right?” We’re like, “Yeah, you’re contracting. You’re doing really great.” They’re like, “We’re probably just going to send you home anyways so we can just sit here and wait,” and just was very rude, questioning her, and pretty much saying that she was not even in labor and that she was over the top. 

    Carlise: Oh, lovely. 

    Meagan: This one doctor that came in was like, “You are just highly sensitive and being overdramatic. Maybe you should learn how to cope better because you’re not even contracting yet,” and just talking down and being very rude. She’s vomiting. She’s shaking. She is clearly laboring. They leave and she turns to us and says, “What other hospital takes my insurance?” As a doula, I wasn’t expecting that but at the same time, I should have expected that because of how rude they were to her. I said, “Well, this hospital and this hospital.” She rips out her IV because they had given her an IV for fluids for vomiting. She ripped it off, was holding her arm, and was like, “Let’s go!”

    Carlise: That’s intense. 

    Meagan: I was like, “What?!” She was literally holding her arm and she was like, “I am done.” Her husband was like, “Me too.” They were getting her dressed and as a doula, I’m like, “Okay. I go where you go.” 

    Carlise: Man, all right. We’re doing this now. Okay. 

    Meagan: She’s walking out and they’re like, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” They’re freaking out and she’s like, “I’m leaving. I am going somewhere else to have my baby. You said that you were going to send me home anyways so I am going home.” They were like, “We’ll have to have you sign an AMA.” She was like, “Where do I sign?” They were like, “Oh, but your insurance won’t cover this.” 

    Carlise: Mhmm, yeah. Okay. 

    Meagan: She was like, “I don’t care. I’m signing this AMA.” We went. We were 6.5-7 centimeters when we got to the hospital and had a baby a couple of hours later. Dad caught the baby. It was a beautiful, beautiful experience. 

    So AMA, what does that mean? It’s really leaving the hospital without the physician’s advice before they decide to discharge you. It says right here in a NCBI which we will make sure that this is in the show notes today if you want to read a little bit more. But it says, “Leaving a hospital against a physician’s advice may expose the patient to risk of an inadequately treated medical problem and result in the need for readmission.” 

    That is important to remember, that we as parents know that. We are signing this form and we are saying, “We assume the risk of us leaving because we are leaving against your advice,” but I also think it’s important for us to know and follow our mom's gut to be like, “I’m just going to have this baby and do this.”

    Carlise: 100%. 

    Meagan: You have to think about it. If you are in an AMA situation, you want to really think about it. You want to weigh out the pros and cons and you want to be educated. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re definitely starting your education because as you mentioned, you learn along all of these stories. But it’s a big thing. The article says, “The problem with AMA discharge is the prevalence of risk and costs. It can formulate recommendations of managing and preventing them on the basis of available evidence.” That’s so hard because they can say, “Well, this happened because you left,” or even the cost of insurance. 

    They can say, “Oh, well we won’t do this because you left against our advice.” So it’s important to definitely learn more about an AMA and why you would sign an AMA but know that an AMA exists because if you are in a hostile environment, it’s probably not a healthy one. 

    Carlise: Right and that was my thing too. I didn’t feel safe with this care provider and then being told, “No, there isn’t another provider,” I feel like there are going to be so many more interventions and so many things that are going to be done without my consenting because obviously, they already tried to do that once. I would rather sign an AMA and leave than to have you touch me and cause issues that shouldn’t have been caused at all. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I think it’s important to know that it exists and then know the pros and cons. It’s just one of those other things. Know the pros and cons of signing an AMA or what that entails and then having that backup plan. But just know that it exists because for the client of mine, she was like, “I couldn’t have stayed there. I was feeling so anxious. I was feeling so triggered and traumatized by what they were doing and what they were saying to me.”

    She said, “The second I walked into this new hospital, I just truly felt 100% at ease. 100% at ease.” So yeah. It’s so important to feel that comfort, know your options, and look at you. You did! You went and you had an unmedicated, no-intervention VBAC. 

    Carlise: Yeah. Honestly, it’s been amazing. The recovery has been fantastic and I am so proud of me and every mama who has had a VBAC and had to fight for it. That’s just awesome. 

    Meagan: You should be so proud of yourself. Congratulations. Thank you for coming on and sharing this story. I also want to end with a preface by saying that sharing this story is not to bash an OB or anything like that. 

    Carlise: 100%. 

    Meagan: It’s not anything like that because OBs are great. I’m sure he was caught off guard. He had his stuff but at the same time very much acted in a very unprofessional way. 

    Carlise: Absolutely. 

    Meagan: It’s important to know all sides of things. 

    Carlise: 100%. Absolutely. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    52m | May 24, 2023
  • Episode 235 Brittany's VBA2C + Foley Induction with Zero Dilation

    Brittany’s first C-section came after a long and exhausting pushing phase with no progress. Her second C-section came after providers gave her a 50/50 chance of VBAC success due to the VBAC calculator. Brittany chose a repeat Cesarean for the comfort of a controlled environment following multiple traumatic pregnancy losses beforehand. She did not expect another horrible recovery with an elective Cesarean, but it was even worse than the first. 

    Brittany immediately began devouring all information about VBAC after two Cesareans even before her third pregnancy. When she became pregnant, she found an extremely supportive provider 2.5 hours away which proved to be the best decision she could have made. 

    Her VBA2C was everything she hoped it would be– raw, difficult, beautiful, redemptive, and empowering. Right after that birth, she wanted to do it all again! 

    Additional Links

    Brittany’s Instagram

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

     Meagan: You are listening to The VBAC Link Podcast and this is your host, Meagan. I am always honored to be on this podcast with you. I love the listeners. I love the storytellers. I love the reviewers. We just love everything about this community and I am excited to bring a VBA2C– I’m not even going to be bringing it actually. Our friend Brittany is going to be bringing it. We are having a VBAC after two Cesareans story. Our most requested podcast topic is VBAC after multiple Cesareans, specifically two. 

    We know how hard it is to find providers to support a VBAC after multiple Cesareans even though ACOG themselves says that VBAC after two Cesareans is totally acceptable and reasonable to go for. It’s really hard and it’s frustrating. I know as a VBA2C mom myself that it’s so frustrating. It’s so frustrating, right Brittany, to feel total defeat over and over again, being told that you cannot, you should not, and being filled with horror stories. I mean, all of the things. It’s so frustrating and this is why we are here. We are sharing these stories. We are letting you know that you can. It is possible. 

    It might not be easy along the way and you’re going to hear today in Brittany’s story that it’s not easy but it is possible. So we have our friend Brittany like I mentioned. She is from southern Minnesota. She has been through quite the journey which she is going to share with you. If you want to know what some takeaways will be from this episode, one thing is finding that supportive provider just like we were talking about. It’s so important. It’s so key but we know that it can be challenging being rejected multiple times and being told no, and then not finding a supportive provider until the very end of pregnancy. 

    You guys, this is something that I want you to know. If you are not feeling like you are being supported, if you are feeling or seeing the red flags, if something in your gut does not feel right, you are not stuck. You do not have to stay with any provider because they saw you for 34 weeks, 28 weeks, 40 weeks, 41 weeks, or even 42 weeks. You are not stuck. You can change. It’s not always easy and we understand that, but you always have options to change. You can fire a provider at the very moment. 

    We don’t necessarily encourage you to fire your providers. I don’t want to make it sound like, “Fire your provider!” but you can. If it’s not feeling right, if it’s not a good mix, you can say, “I would like to request a new provider at this time,” or you can start finding it through so many amazing resources like right here at The VBAC Link. Women of strength, if you are looking for a provider, write us. Go join our VBAC Link Community. We have a whole list of providers on there that have been known as supportive. I can’t tell you. I’m just here in Utah. I’ve not met all of these providers. I’ve not talked to them. I’ve not interviewed them. These are providers that are being suggested by our other women of strength who have truly gone through this experience and believe them to be VBAC supportive. Their names are being compiled on this list for you all over the world not just here in the U.S. as guidance for you to help you find a supportive provider. 

    So go to The VBAC Link Community on Facebook, answer the questions, and go check it out. And if you are listening today to this episode, please PM us on Instagram, Facebook, or info@thevbaclink.com. Tell us who your supportive providers are. If they are not on the list, we want to get them on. If you are a supportive provider listening, we want you on this list. It is so important and we as VBAC moms ourselves, and Brittany, I am sure you will attest to this. It is so important to have that provider on your side. It is so important. 

    Review of the Week

    Okay, I will jump off my soapbox and we will get to our Review of the Week so cute Brittany can share her stories. This is actually on our How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents. Parents, if you didn’t know, we actually have a VBAC prep course for you. It’s filled with information on the history of Cesarean, the history of VBAC, the pros and cons, how to VBAC, and how to find these supportive providers. We will provide you with a lot of printables and things to take along with you on your journey to make sure that you’ve got the perfect team and that you feel confident in the birthing choice that you are choosing. 

    This says, “This course was so helpful, especially with helping to educate my husband on the safety of VBACs. As he had previously been nervous about my choice, we watched all of the videos already and will also be reviewing the workbook again before birth. Highly recommended.” Thank you, Heather, for sharing that review. Yes, just like she said, this course is amazing. We have reading material and then we have a workbook that you can follow along. You can either download it or purchase a workbook to go along with it. We encourage your birthing partners to take this course with you because it is important for them to know this information. So check it out at thevbaclink.com if you haven’t already and we will see you on the other side. 

    Brittany’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Brittany. 

    Brittany: Yes. 

    Meagan: Thank you so much for taking the time today to share these stories. Like I said, we get emails and messages on Instagram and Facebook in our inbox saying, “Please share more VBAC after multiple Cesarean stories,” because there are times when we go in and we have an unplanned Cesarean and then sometimes we get coerced or we feel that it’s best to choose another one, but then we start learning more and we want a different experience. We know how hard that is. I welcome you and let’s turn the time over to you. 

    Brittany: Absolutely. I am honored to be here. I am very excited to share my story. I know am a mama to three babies. I’m going to share a little bit about my C-sections before I move on to my vaginal birth. 

    I found out I was pregnant with my first son in 2016. I’m sorry. I had him in 2016. I was actually newly sober. I’m a person in recovery so I was very new to a lot of things in life. I was going to be a single mom and I also was sober so a lot of big changes were going on at that time. 

    I was very uneducated about birth, being a new mom, and everything at that time. I was going through so much at the time obviously and then I was nine days overdue which we know truly isn’t overdue but that’s what they say. At that point, I just wanted to have him. I was not educated about interventions or anything like that so I just went with the punches. Whatever the providers and team wanted, that’s what I did. 

    I also knew as much as possible, I didn’t want as many pain meds as possible just because of my recovery from substances and I really liked narcotics so I knew that I didn’t want to go down that slippery slope. I allowed them to induce me with two doses of Cytotec. It started working but then they wanted to break my water and I allowed them because I truly didn’t know better or have any information on that. 

    I got an epidural super early even though I think I panicked more than anything. I didn’t want to have pain so I just got it not knowing that I was going to have a long labor and being stuck in bed wasn’t going to do me any favors. 

    After laying in bed basically for 24 hours, I pushed for two hours. He was not descending. At that point, I was truly done. I was exhausted. I had been up for two days being induced, so we decided on a C-section. He was sunny-side up so that’s what made it more difficult for him to come down which made sense. So he was here. Recovery was rough. I’ll talk about that a little bit more later. 

    Fast forward to some time in 2017, I went into the ER. They couldn’t really figure out what was going on with me. I really wasn’t feeling well. Long story short, I actually had an ectopic pregnancy. I was on the IUD at the time so I had no idea that I was even pregnant. It was very traumatic. I went from not knowing I was pregnant then they had to take the baby out. I actually lost one of my tubes at the same time. I had to have lifesaving emergency surgery. I was in the hospital for five days and they couldn’t do it laparoscopically. They did have to cut me all the way open and take everything out. So that was very traumatic and a very big loss. 

    Then I met the man that I eventually married in 2018. We experienced an early miscarriage in 2018 as well so another loss. In 2019, we found in late 2018 going into 2019 that we were pregnant with our rainbow baby. At that point, I was very unsure of what I wanted for my birth. I knew how terrible my C-section experience was but I was also terrified of laboring for that long and then ending up with another C-section again. I trusted my doctors. I was listening to them. 

    Of course, they did the VBAC calculator and at that time, they told me I had a 50/50 chance. Being that he never descended, they said, “It’s up to you what you want to do” and I had lost two babies. I just wanted a baby here safe so I was like, “You know what? 50/50. Let’s just go with the C-section.” I was hoping that not having that long labor beforehand would really help with my recovery. I just wanted my baby here safely too. With it being my rainbow baby, I just wanted my baby here. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. 

    Brittany: Yeah. My C-section, the surgery itself went fine with my second son but it was an even worse recovery. I had a severe reaction from the adhesive tape that was on my belly. I broke out completely all over my whole body.  

    Meagan: Oh man. 

    Brittany: I had shoulder pain and I have high blood pressure so it was very scary to have shoulder pain. It was very scary because I instantly thought of heart problems. It was just shoulder pain from the C-section.

    Meagan: It’s usually air actually crazy enough. Air gets trapped. I had that too. I was like, “What is happening? Is this my milk?” They were like, “No, it’s air.” Getting up and walking can really help but it can sometimes get trapped up in that shoulder or even the rib area. 

    Brittany: Yeah, so strange. I was so sick and throwing up for 36 hours. 

    Meagan: Oh, and with a new incision. 

    Brittany: And then I was dehydrated and blacking out from that. It was just an absolute, awful mess. Basically immediately after he was born, I began researching vaginal birth after two C-sections because I knew I never wanted to do that again and I knew we were not done having babies. 

    I binged every single episode that you guys have. I couldn’t listen to them fast enough because I knew I wanted all of the information before we had another baby. Even before we were trying, I was doing all of this. I read many books and watched YouTube videos. I was practicing meditation and mindfulness because the mindset is such a big part. I learned about HypnoBirthing and I was also so much healthier. I gained way less weight. I was eating healthier. I was being active and trying to be as mobile as possible to let the baby descend when that time came. 

    Like I mentioned, I do have chronic hypertension so I really wanted to keep that in check because I knew that would be a big red flag for everyone. 

    So then eventually, we did get pregnant with our third baby. I was still doing all of my research and things like that. At that time, I actually did hire a doula as well. I wanted to do everything I possibly could. She was very supportive of a VBAC after two C-sections. 

    So then we started the hunt of trying to advocate for myself. I really worked on relaxing myself just to get in that positive mindset. Initially, where I gave birth to my birth son, they now do some VBACs but they will absolutely not look at people who have more than one C-section and then it’s case by case for just a single. They were like, “No, you either have to go to a C-section or go to the high-risk unit.” I said, “Okay, then send me to the high-risk unit. That’s what I want.”

    At 32 weeks, they saw me at the high-risk and complex unit. This was basically to see. They would assess me and see if they believed that I had a fighting chance. My blood pressure at the time was in a great range and I was actually off medication because I was so healthy doing what I needed to do. 

    Meagan: That’s awesome. 

    Brittany: Yeah, it was great. I advocated for myself with them saying, “I hired a doula. I have a supportive husband. I have done all of this research. I know what research truly says,” and of course, they pull out the calculator. 

    Meagan: Oh boy. 

    Brittany: It kind of depended. Sometimes it put me at 20%. Sometimes it put me at 40% depending on who did it because of the blood pressure and because of the two repeat C-sections with no vaginal birth before that. They said they would work with me. That was their wording yet they said that they wanted me to have a C-section no later than 38 weeks. 

    Meagan: No later than 38 weeks? 

    Brittany: Yep, yep. Knowing that my first son came at 38.5 weeks, I knew that was probably not likely. I was also in the mindset that if I went to 42 weeks, I was okay with it because I knew that as long as they continued to monitor things, then it was okay. I knew that if I didn’t go into spontaneous labor myself, so say that my blood pressure spiked or anything like that, they would not do anything to help induce me. No low Pitocin, nothing like that, no breaking of water, nothing. I would have to do it all on my own. I knew that was a huge barrier too. 

    Meagan: Yeah. They’re putting restrictions on you already. Listeners, if you are getting, “Yeah, okay,” but then you are getting restriction, restriction, restriction, then it’s probably not the right space. 

    Brittany: Yeah, exactly. Those were my first thoughts. If I’m already knowing that these restrictions are being put up, I’m going to hold in more tension even when I come here and just wait for some kind of failure in the process for them to say, “Okay, we need a C-section.” So I truly wasn’t even getting a chance to try. 

    I literally left the office bawling with my husband. And of course, my husband is not as educated as I am because he’s not going to be giving birth. He’s very supportive and educated just not to our level but they fearmongered him. They made us, not me because I knew the statistic and things, but he was more worried like, “Are you sure this is safe?” and things like that. I was feeling so discouraged. I was 32 weeks pregnant and I was like, “What am I going to do because I know this isn’t going to work?”

    I actually have a very good friend who had her first baby by a C-section and then she had two VBACs after that. She was one of my biggest supporters. She rooted for me so hard. 

    Meagan: She was your motivator and in your space. 

    Brittany: She had to be induced at 37 weeks with her babies due to being high risk with medical complications and she still did it. She just really gave me hope. We began researching together. She literally lives in a different state and she was researching with me. 

    Meagan: That’s amazing. 

    Brittany: It is so amazing. That’s what’s great about this community. We found a provider that actually is 2.5 hours away from where I live. I knew it was crazy, but I was like, “You know what? What does it hurt for me to even go and see this guy once?”

    Meagan: Listen, it’s not crazy. It’s not. I know it sounds crazy and the world we live in makes it feel crazy to go so far. It’s not crazy. It’s not crazy. It’s just you advocating for yourself and finding what you need for yourself. 

    Brittany: I came on Facebook groups with you guys and other VBAC groups specific to our area. I just read testimony after testimony about how amazing and old-school he is. I called and even at this point, I was okay if insurance didn’t cover things. I just wanted this. He’s a different breed. He’s a lone wolf, one of those very rare people that we find. I made an appointment. I believe it was for about 34 weeks so it was still a couple of weeks away. 

    When the appointment came, I actually had influenza so I had to cancel it. I was like, “Oh my gosh. Everything that could work against me is working against me.” I said, “Nope. At his next appointment, I’ll go.” I went and he had my medical records but he barely looked at me and he was like, “Yep. We’re going to do this.” He was so positive. 

    Meagan: Wow. Wow. 

    Brittany: Not that we were going to try, but that we were going to do this. That was great. I continued to go to appointments weekly until post baby’s due date. But also he was not naive. He told me the risks of both very realistically but not in a scary way. Just like, “This is what it can look like.”

    Meagan: These are the facts, yeah. 

    Brittany: The clinic has just a small-town, homey feel. It’s truly about the patient. It’s not like we are just another number. Truly at the end of the day, he gave me the empowerment that not only was I going to do this but he was going to allow me to try. That’s all I wanted was to be able to try this and to have hope in myself. 

    At 38 weeks, we discovered that my blood pressure had skyrocketed. The next day, it continued to be so they monitored me for a little while. I’m also 2.5 hours away so they kept me for a little longer. The next day, it continued to be. Being that I was in a safe zone, the doctor said, “Would you be okay if we did a slow induction?” At that point, I trusted him even though I truly barely knew him. He gave such good vibes. My husband loved him. I said, “Absolutely.” 

    I was completely closed so it did not seem like any baby was coming anytime soon from looking at it. At 7:00 PM that night, they inserted the Foley bulb to help me dilate. At 8:00 PM, my body actually took over and I had some major contractions. My job for the night was to rest, let the bulb do its work and just mentally get in the mindset that we were going to be in labor the next day. 

    In the middle of the night, my COVID swab came back positive even though I had no symptoms. 

    Meagan: Oh no and you had just gotten over influenza. 

    Brittany: Yes. That was very interesting. My doula, this was the one weekend that she was unavailable of course, so she had her sub-doula available but she couldn’t come in because of COVID. She was only available by phone which was a bummer but we made it through. 

    12 hours in the next morning at 7:00 AM, the Foley bulb was removed and I was 4 centimeters. That was great because with my first son, I had already gotten the epidural and I was panicking at that time. I was already in a great mindset. I was managing the discomfort so great. 

    He started the Pitocin super slow and low. That’s what he’s known for, starting it super low and slow at the smallest amount possible. The baby’s heart rate had some decels so they turned the PItocin off for a while, no panicking. They were just going to go with the flow. 

    At 10:00 AM, they broke my water. We just hung out. I was feeling good. My contractions picked up on their own without that Pitocin ever being restarted. My body began doing it with that very little bit of intervention. At about 1:30, I began struggling pretty badly with pain and pressure. I stated, “I want an epidural.” Everyone knew that I didn’t want that so I said that I would wait another 15 minutes and give it a minute. I still wanted it 15 minutes later and I knew in my mind that I was holding so much tension in. I just couldn’t let it go so I was like, “You know what? At this point, let’s do the epidural.” 

    We did it. As soon as the anesthesiologist came in, I knew that I made the right choice. I was already feeling that relief that I was going to feel from just letting my body relax. I knew how important the mindset was that I just needed to let my body do it. Baby’s heart again had a few decels but the team worked great to reposition me after the epidural was in. I could still feel the pressure of the contractions. I could tell we were progressing but at 2:45, I progressed far enough to be able to push. I progressed very quickly from being completely closed to being here very quickly within less than 24 hours. 

    The team was so supportive. I could feel the baby moving down still, that pressure. I was ecstatic. Once we started the pushing phase, I was very nervous because that’s how far I got with Benny, my oldest. I had pushed with two hours with him and he had never moved down. I was very scared that that was going to happen. With the first push, I knew it was different. I could feel him moving. I could feel the baby moving down. 

    We were gender-neutral beforehand and at 3:44, our sweet baby girl was delivered vaginally. 

    Meagan: Aww. 

    Brittany: Yes. It was quite amazing to feel baby on my chest. It’s still shocking now feeling the baby on my chest and having my husband look. He was crying and was like, “It’s a girl.” After having two boys, it was the icing on the cake. It was absolutely amazing. 

    Meagan: Yeah, and a different postpartum experience?

    Brittany: Absolutely. My provider had known how traumatic my C-sections were and then of course with my ectopic, completely being cut open with that too, it was totally different. It was stunning. Even with the epidural, I barely had the epidural so it’s not like it was running for a long time. I was never able to eat right away after birth. I pretty much ate almost all labor until the epidural and then to be able to eat as soon as I wanted to right after without throwing up, that alone was huge. I could walk practically right after. No crazy abdominal pain because of the C-section. I could help the baby right away whereas I was stuck in bed for so long after the C-section. 

    The doctor looked at me and he was like, “How is this?” I’m like, “Indescribable.” 

    Meagan: Do you even need to ask? 

    Brittany: It’s insane how different C-section versus pure vaginal delivery was. I was ready to do it again. My husband was like, “Okay, we’re done having babies because we got our girl.” I was like, “I’m ready to do it again.” 

    Meagan: Yes. Oh, I was the same way. I was like, “No, I want to do this again. This was amazing. I got the birth that I wanted.” There is something special. I want to also point out that sometimes vaginal births can be traumatic too but there is something about that baby being placed on your chest after you’ve gone through some less ideal or traumatic experiences. Yeah. It’s hard because you compare it and you’re like, “This is a breeze.” It’s still hard. Recovery is still hard but it’s just magical. Oh, I love it. I love that you at the end of pregnancy were like, “No. We’re going to do something differently.” 

    It ended up being an induction so it was like, “Hey, come. Drive and come and it’s planned.” But I would love to know or I’d love for you to share if you can any of your plans for listeners assuming that it was going spontaneously. I think a lot of people get nervous. It’s a daunting feeling. They get nervous about, “When do I go? What do I do? It’s a long drive.” Do you have any tips or suggestions of what your plan was to travel that distance assuming spontaneous labor went into play?

    Brittany: Absolutely. We talked about that. That was one of my husband’s biggest worries because obviously, he would be driving me. We knew first of all that obviously every labor can be different but that my son’s took forever. He was also induced. We were hoping for that but then also, we knew and had great backup for the other kids for daycare at a moment’s notice. We had great people to be able to drop them off at. We had talked to the provider too. Basically, if my labor got at all semi-regular if it had happened at home, if my water broke, I was going to head right in because we knew we would be having a baby. We also knew with having two C-sections that we wanted to be near medical attention just in case. 

    We knew that even if my contractions started coming semi-regularly that we would likely head in. I was ready to labor hard in the car if that’s what it had to be. Also, say all of a sudden, I got pushy and that’s how fast it was progressing, we were okay going to our hospital closer just because then, I’m in the thick of it. We don’t want anything to happen to anybody but we knew that it could possibly be a barrier having to drive all the way 2.5 hours to this hospital. 

    Meagan: Yeah. That is a really good point. Preparing to labor hard in the car is no joke for sure. Obviously, that’s not what happened but preparing yourself mentally is so beneficial because if that does happen, it can take out some trauma because it could be traumatic in the car if you’re not prepared for that and labor is progressing, and then of course, having that plan of, “Okay, if things shift and I’m pushing that baby out, we’ll go to this nearest hospital.” 

    Also, I would suggest, you were saying, “Oh, if things were getting active then we would go,” but you could also, when you get there, you don’t have to go straight in but just be in the vicinity. Grab a hotel or go to a park and walk around. Just be close by. Preparing for that financially as well if you’re getting a hotel or something like that is something that’s important because you don’t want to have anything crazy happen but also educate yourself on the signs of something going wrong so if you know that it’s happening in the car and you still have 45 minutes, you can just go to the nearest hospital at the next exit or whatever. 

    Brittany: Yeah, absolutely. 

    Meagan: Great tips. I seriously love that. Prepare to labor hard in that car because it can happen. Congratulations to you and I am so proud of you on all of your journeys. It’s hard because we’ve had these Cesareans, undesired, sometimes traumatic, or desired with unidentified outcomes where you wouldn’t think that it would have been like that. These are the stories that make us who we are today. It’s these stories that are changing others’ lives and empowering them. 

    Whatever your takeaway is from today, maybe it is recognizing a supportive versus non-supportive provider. Maybe it is figuring out what you need to do for yourself. Maybe it’s traveling or whatever it may be. Maybe it’s scheduling that repeat Cesarean. Whatever it may be, know that it is your birth. It’s your birth. This is your body. This is your baby. This is your future and whatever decision you make that is best for you, we here at The VBAC Link support but do have all of these resources for you to turn to and learn so you can know what your options really are. 

    Brittany: Yes. Information is key. That’s one of the biggest things I took away. I am all for people making whatever decision they want in regard to anything including birth, but I just want people to have the information, the correct information, to be able to make those informed decisions. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. Absolutely. One other quick thing I wanted to talk about is how you went in for a VBAC after two Cesareans with no progress. There wasn’t any progress being made meaning that your body was not showing signs at that moment of labor beginning or progressing. They started with a Foley bulb or a Cook catheter depending on where you are or what your hospital uses. That can be something that a lot of providers will refuse to use if you’re not dilated to a 1. 

    Now, I want to preface. You’ll have to tell us actually. It can be very uncomfortable getting a Foley in with no dilation because they’re putting a tiny little tube in something that is closed. 

    Brittany: Yes. Yes. 

    Meagan: That is definitely a little bit of a disclaimer there. It can be very uncomfortable but just like Brittany and I want to say it was Shannon? I could be totally wrong. It was a VBAC after three Cesarean birth. She ended up doing a little bit of Pit to try and get her cervix to do something and then got a Foley in. It barely opened if I remember right. It just shows that it is possible. It is possible. They may say that it’s not possible. I will say that it’s not common for them to do it but it is possible. You can request it. Yes, prepare yourself mentally because I don’t know Brittany if you want to describe it at all but it’s possible. It’s possible to do that. 

    So if you’re in a situation and they’re like, “You are in no state to be induced,” but you’re really not feeling like you want to do a scheduled C-section, try it. 

    Brittany: Yes, totally. It was very uncomfortable. It was truly painful. I had been induced with my first son so I knew what labor was like, but I was like, “Oh, this is pretty rough.” But hands down, I would do it again. After that initial insertion which took a little bit because I was completely closed– 

    Meagan: And probably posterior a little bit so they had to send the tube up and forward. 

    Brittany: It was rough. I was worried that it wasn’t going very well, but it just takes time because I was fully closed. I had pretty good contractions just from that for an hour. My body totally took over which was good. I mean, but then it was such good progress. I slept all night. By morning, I was 4 centimeters. I mean, can you honestly ask for more than that? 

    Meagan: That’s amazing. 

    Brittany: That was the perfect start to an induction. 

    Meagan: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. That’s one of the things that the Foley can do is it can get your body to 4 centimeters, sometimes even to 5 centimeters. It’s also important to note that sometimes when it falls out, the cervix relaxes. Do you like my sound effects? It’s hard because we can see each other. She can get my emotion. It can relax and go backward. It doesn’t really go backward, it just relaxes. So sometimes keep in mind that if a Foley comes out at 4 centimeters, you might be closer to 3.5 or 3 but it stretches to a 4 because it just stretched to a 4. If you get checked again and they’re like, “Oh, you went backward. You’re a 3.” No. Don’t let that get in your head. 

    And then they started low-dose Pit and things. That’s something I wanted to point out. It’s not something that is super common and oftentimes, providers say no but it is possible. 

    Brittany: It was absolutely incredible. I mean, really the biggest thing is to educate yourself. I went to the chiropractor. I did all of the things. I was in so much pain at 37 weeks pregnant, 36 pregnant. I’m a firm advocate of the chiropractor anyway. I love it for everything. Helping my kids poop as weird as that is–

    Meagan: Oh no, I know. I’ve done that too and it’s amazing. It works. 

    Brittany: Yes. So I had been going very regularly anyway because I knew how much that can help get baby in place and help with pain, help with hips. I was in so much pain and I’m like, “Oh no. This is not good. I can’t be in this much pain going into birth.” My chiropractor actually got COVID of course right around that time so I was like, “I can’t even see her. Who knows if I’ll get to see her again before I have his baby?” 

    I was lucky enough to find a very nearby chiropractor the day before I went in to be induced. I swear that helped a lot too. Just incredible. It turned out beautifully. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. Yeah and if sometimes you’re having prodromal labor or if labor it just carrying on, carrying on, and carrying on, going and getting an adjustment can be a game changer. Yes. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here with us today and sharing these beautiful stories. 

    Brittany: Thank you. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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    38m | May 17, 2023
  • Episode 234 Sydney's VBAC + Do We Really Have to Have a Baby by 40 Weeks?

    Sydney joins Meagan on the podcast today to share her VBAC story and talk about her experiences going past 42 weeks for both of her pregnancies. Meagan shares a story about one of her doula clients who went past 43 weeks! Sydney and Meagan discuss how due dates are calculated and the flaws behind the method that is so widely used.

    Meagan shares evidence-based information about the risks involved with being pregnant longer than 42 weeks as well as risks surrounding the choice to induce earlier. Having multiple sources of information along with your personal experiences and feelings will help you feel more empowered to make the right decisions surrounding when to birth your baby!

    Additional Links

    Birthful Podcast Episode on Due Dates

    EBB: Evidence on Due Dates Blog

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello! It is The VBAC Link. My name is Meagan and we have another VBAC story for you today. In addition to the VBAC story, we’re going to be talking about postdates. This is a really hot topic especially in the VBAC world because we have a lot of people, I don’t want to say forced necessarily, but pressed to induce their labor. I think after the ARRIVE trial came out, it’s become even more pressing to have a baby by 39 weeks. I feel like the way we view the new due dates is that 40 weeks is 41. 39 is 40. 38 is 39. 

    I feel like in a lot of areas in the world, that is how our mental state has shifted and we don’t really hear 41 weeks or 42 weeks as much anymore. Today, we have Sydney, and guess what you guys? She had 42 weeks and 5 days, right? Is that right Sydney with your first? 

    Sydney: Mhmm, that’s right. Yes. 

    Meagan: And then 42 weeks and 3 days with the second. So you are one of those mamas that carry further along than a lot of people. We’re going to actually make sure to have it here in the show notes but the Birthful Podcast, I don’t know if you guys listen to Birthful Podcast but I love it. I’m not even expecting anymore. I’m done having kids but I still love listening to it because the guests that she has on there are just filled with information. I want to say the guest she had, her name was Gayle I want to say. Don’t quote me on that. But she has an episode all about due dates and talking about how the body carries. 

    Review of the Week

    We are going to get some more into that at the end but of course, we have a review of the week and then we will have Sydney share her VBAC story with you. This review is by Rachelmademusic. It says, “Such a gem of a show. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Julie and Meagan, for creating this supportive and powerful space for mamas like me to learn and prepare for our VBACs. I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant and preparing for my own VBAC. I can’t begin to express just how thankful I am to have found this podcast. I am truly grateful for this resource and for all of the mamas who come onto this show and share their stories. There is such an incredible strength and collective wisdom to be found here and I highly recommend this podcast to anyone preparing for VBAC or not.”

    Oh, thank you so much Rachelmademusic. I would agree. This podcast is such a great platform for first, second-time, third-time moms, fourth-time moms, and not even just VBAC moms because there is so much information that is shared on this podcast that talks about how to avoid a Cesarean. When we have a Cesarean in the US, it’s almost 32%. That’s pretty stinking high especially when it used to be 5% way back in the day. 

    Although our VBAC rates are also going up, Cesarean rates have just skyrocketed. So if we can learn how to avoid an unnecessary Cesarean or undesired which a lot of us have had undesired and unplanned or maybe unnecessary Cesareans, we can start lowering that. I think it could be super impactful to a lot of the world because as part of these stories, we hear these first-time Cesareans or second-time Cesareans and they don’t always resonate with positivity. That is hard because we want our birth experiences to be positive. So yeah. I think that it’s super important that anybody listens to all of these birth stories. 

    Sydney’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, welcome to the show, Sydney. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to be here with us and share these stories. 

    Sydney: Thank you. 

    Meagan: Are you in Virginia? Is that correct? 

    Sydney: Yep, I’m in Virginia. 

    Meagan: Awesome. We’re going to start trying to say where people are because a lot of the times, we’ll get messages that will say, “Oh my gosh, I’m in the same area. Is there any way I could get their providers?” So it’s fun to be like, “I’m in Virginia. I will listen to this too because I want a VBAC and I want to learn who is supportive or who is maybe not supportive.” 

    Yes, okay. Well, I would love to just hear your story and share this with all of you women of strength listening. 

    Sydney: Yeah, great. Okay, thanks. Yes, I’m Sydney. I’ll just jump into my first birth story. I was pregnant actually during the pandemic. My due date was August 8, 2020. 

    Meagan: Okay, in the thick of it, really. 

    Sydney: Yes, right in the midst of it. We were planning to birth with our birth center here locally. I actually was living in Tennessee when I got pregnant then moved about halfway through and started prenatal care with a birth center here so I was planning for a natural birth and just sort of assumed everything would be fine. Women had been giving birth forever. I come from a lot of strong women having a lot of babies so I just did not even think. I assumed it would be fine. 

    Meagan: Yeah, you didn’t think anything of it. Yeah. 

    Sydney: Yeah, this is just what people do. I’ll be fine. Everything was pretty normal with the pregnancy. I got to 40 weeks and had no signs of labor. I was not really worried about it at that point. Then I started getting to the end of 41 weeks and I was like, “Hmm. Huh. What do I do now?” The midwives were really helpful and gave me of course all of the things to try. I tried all of the things. I was going to the chiropractor multiple times. I tried acupuncture. I was drinking tea. I was pumping and doing all of the things that they told me I should do to try and get labor going. I just was not having much luck. 

    So finally we decided, “Okay.” I was going to be 42 weeks on a Saturday so we thought, “I’ll try the big guns, castor oil, on Saturday.” Something happened with the midwife. She wasn’t ready for me to do it on Saturday so we had to wait until Monday which was 42+2. I took it first thing Monday morning at 6:00 or 7:00 AM. I could not keep it down. I threw it up so I had to do it again which was horrible. I hated it. I was like, “I’m never doing this again.”

    Meagan: Did you drink it straight? Did they have you mix it in a concoction? 

    Sydney: They had me do a milkshake with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, and castor oil. 

    Meagan: Yeah, that’s actually similar to what I drank. 

    Sydney: Really? Okay. 

    Meagan: Yeah, with my second. It’s gross. 

    Sydney: It was still so disgusting. 

    Meagan: Yeah, yeah. 

    Sydney: I did it a second time. The castor oil did its job. It got some contractions going but I was walking a lot to just keep them doing anything. That sort of continued through Tuesday. I was having just mild contractions on and off. Then by Wednesday morning which was when I was 42+4, they were strong and consistent. The midwives were like, “Okay, we think you’re ready to come in. Let’s get things going.”

    I remember they had to meet us at the birth center. It was 7:30 in the morning. I got there and apparently, another mom had beat me there. She was also in labor. So as soon as I walked in, I’m a first-time pregnant mom, she is pushing her baby out and screaming. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever heard. Literally, I think my cervix just closed up and was like, “Nope. Not doing that.” I literally didn’t have contractions for a couple of hours after that. It all stopped. 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Sydney: That was unfortunate, 

    Meagan: That can happen. That can really happen though. It doesn’t even matter. Maybe nothing significant like a woman screaming in labor, it doesn’t have to seem significant. It can be just shifting from the car to the hospital or your home to the car or downstairs to upstairs. Something off can calm things down. 

    Sydney: It did, yeah. 

    Meagan: Sometimes it’s just your body responding and needing a break. 

    Sydney: Yeah, yeah and that’s really what happened. The midwives worked with me all day. We were doing Miles Circuit. I remember that it was August so it was scorching outside. They had me climbing hills and stairs and curb walking. They made my husband stay inside and take a nap because he was exhausted. I was doing all of the things, pumping every half an hour and they were giving me tinctures every 30 minutes. 

    Still, by 5:00, I think I was maybe 3 centimeters but contractions were not picking up. They weren’t strong enough and we were both exhausted so the midwives were like, “All right. I think the best plan is for you to go home, drink a glass of wine and take some Tylenol PM. Let’s get these mild contractions to stop so you can relax and then you probably need to go be induced in the morning.” Because at this point, we were 42 and 4. I was starting to get uncomfortable. 

    I was just exhausted. They were like, “It probably would be beneficial for you at this point to be induced and have an epidural so you can just rest and relax and let your body do what it needs to do.” That was our plan. We went home and did that. It worked for a couple of hours but the contractions actually really picked up overnight so by 4:30, I was like, “We need to go. I can’t do this anymore.” I think we did the wine and Tylenol PM again later in the night and it just was not working. So at this point, I was like, “Okay. We’re ready to go.” 

    We ended up going to the hospital. By the time I got there, they were like, “You do not need to be induced. You’re already in active labor.” I was like, “Okay, great. Let’s do this.” We labored for a while and decided later that morning to try for an epidural so that I could just get some rest because we were so tired. 

    As soon as I got into position for the epidural, the baby’s heart rate decelerated so there was panic. There were a ton of people in the room. They were doing oxygen. They wanted to check the baby’s position to see if the baby had maybe dropped or something but the baby stabilized almost immediately. They said I was at an 8. I was like, “Oh wow. Okay. Forget the epidural. Let’s just do it.” 

    I continued to labor for a couple of hours and they checked me again. This was probably at 11:00 and they said I was at a 4. 

    Meagan: What?!

    Sydney: I was like, “Huh? What?” I don’t know if the first person got it wrong. I have no idea what happened but I was in a different position when they checked me. It was a whole thing. 

    Meagan: It’s happened. I’ve been to births where that’s happened where they were like, “Oh, you are 9 centimeters,” and getting the cart out, then getting the provider to come in then the provider comes in and is like, “She’s 5 centimeters,” then we’re like, “What?” 

    The one provider explained to me and the team said that sometimes if we have a really, really stretchy, favorable cervix, especially during a contraction or certain positions, it can feel thinner than it is or feel like it is dilated more than it is and then they change that or a different person checks and they’re like, “Yeah, no.” But man, that’s a frustrating scenario. 

    Sydney: I was devastated. So at that point, I was like, “All right, bring me the epidural.” I’m only at 4 centimeters.

    Meagan: Yeah. Change of plans, let’s do that again. 

    Sydney: I cannot go much longer. So they were bringing the epidural. Meanwhile, they decided to break my water because she could feel the water and there was meconium in it so that gave them a red flag. When they went to bring the epidural and I got into position, the same thing happened. Baby’s heart rate went this time way, way down into the 20s. 

    Meagan: Like something is being compressed. 

    Sydney: Yeah, so at that point it wasn’t even a question. They rushed me out for a C-section immediately. By the time we got to the OR, baby had stabilized but they were like, “You’re both exhausted. We need to get this baby out. You’ve been doing this way too long,” and I was postdated and there was meconium so I think there was a lot of concern. 

    Then they went to give me a spinal tap so I could be awake and it didn’t take. They did it twice and it didn’t take. 

    Meagan: Did the baby’s heart rate react then?

    Sydney: Not that I know of. 

    Meagan: It’s not working. It’s not working, yeah. 

    Sydney: So they put me under and I birthed my baby asleep which was a whole thing but she was on my chest not too much after she was born and I was able to nurse immediately. They tried to be really accommodating to me and they were very mother/baby friendly. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Did they bring you back pretty quickly? 

    Sydney: Yeah. 

    Meagan: Like you were awake right after? 

    Sydney: Yes, pretty much. I think they were still working on me while I was awake. 

    Meagan: Okay, yeah. 

    Sydney: And then my husband was able to be there. He got to see her first while they were examining her. It all was fine. We were both healthy and we were okay but it was a little bit of a traumatic experience and not what we were planning for at all from a natural birth to a total C-section. 

    Moving on to being pregnant again, I was like, “All right. What do I want to do now because it feels like the natural birth didn’t go well but this time around–” I don’t know. I felt like I was more prepared and knew a lot more. There were a lot of choices I made with the first birth that I knew I wouldn’t make with the second. 

    I had said, “I’m not going past 42 weeks.” Obviously, I didn’t but that was my mindset. I was like, “I’m going to do what I can to have the baby ahead of time.” 

    So anyways, my second baby was due July 10, 2022, so just under two years later. I did decide to go with the birth center again, the same birth center. We had a good prenatal experience there and I love the midwives there. And again, I felt like I was more knowledgeable this time around. I knew that I was getting a doula. I did not have that the first time. I knew that I wanted to set myself up for success as much as I could. 

    So again, I was doing everything I knew to do to shorten the pregnancy. I went to the chiropractor early and I went consistently every week. I drank lots of the Nora tea. I started pumping at 36 weeks every day. I was taking Gentle Birth and walked consistently. 

    Meagan: So great. 

    Sydney: I was doing everything. The pregnancy was fairly normal. This baby was breech at 34 weeks and I was so discouraged because I was like, “I’m a VBAC. A lot of people aren’t going to want to do that.” Even my midwives were a little bit hesitant to do that because I had never had a vaginal birth. They usually are good with breech births, but with my situation, they were like, “We’re not sure we want to take that risk.” So I knew my chances of VBAC with a breech baby were very low. So I was doing inversions. I did acupuncture. I put frozen peas on my belly. I did everything that people told me to do. He did flip by 36 weeks which I was very thankful for. 

    So anyways, I’m doing all of these things to make sure that this pregnancy is shorter. At 40 weeks, I upped the walking. I started swimming but no signs of labor at all. At 41 weeks, the same thing. Not dilated at all, getting discouraged. And of course, during this time, we’re doing a lot of non-stress tests and trying to make sure that baby is still doing well. 

    Around 42 weeks again, I said, “I’m not going past 42 weeks,” but of course when it gets to that point, I’m like, “Just a couple of more days. I want to do everything I can to have the birth that I want.” So at 42 weeks, I was 1 centimeter and we were all so thankful. The midwife did a sweep and I did castor oil again. I tried to hit it with everything in one day. I think I ended up doing the castor oil three times because it wasn’t doing anything. 

    Meagan: Oh my goodness. 

    Sydney: So eventually, it worked and I got some contractions at midnight to 3:00 AM and then it just sort of fizzled out. I just kept having really mild contractions. At 42 weeks and 3 days, I decided that there was not much more I can do at this point. I need to go be induced because we really were trying everything. They were not getting strong enough or consistent enough to make any progress. 

    Meagan: Again, post date. 

    Sydney: Right, right. My body is going this long, so do I trust that? I know that the risk goes up significantly after 42 weeks from what I’ve heard and read so it’s weighing that balance of, “I know baby’s okay but how long am I willing to wait this out and take risks?” So I decided to go be induced. 

    They put me in triage at 7:00 AM on a Saturday and of course, the nurse was basically like, “You’re this huge fish that doctors never see because you’re a transfer. You’re a VBAC. You’re post dates.” Just all of these different things that made me an interesting patient. 

    Meagan: All of the checkmarks against you here. 

    Sydney: Yes. They were able to get us into a room later that morning. It had a tub. The nurse we had was really sweet. She knew that we were from a birth center. She was like, “I have this room with a tub. Someone’s in it but if you can wait a couple of hours, you can get into that room.” So we got into the room with the tub. They started me with a Foley balloon and that did not take very long at all and then they started Pitocin at a very, very low level, like a 2 I think. 

    Meagan: That’s a really great, nice way to induce. A Foley with a low dose of 2 or 4 milliliters of Pit for a little bit. 

    Sydney: Yeah, yeah. I was able to be in the tub for a little while. I stayed in there for a couple of hours and then I think around some time that afternoon at 3:00 I did ask for an epidural because again, I had been up for days at this point and needed to just rest. 

    Meagan: So tired, yeah. 

    Sydney: The anesthesiologist was in surgery so it was a few hours. I think they didn’t come until 7:30 that evening. This time, everything went fine. I was able to get the epidural and get some rest. It was just like, “Wow. I did not anticipate feeling this good right now.” It was such a relief and I was able to get some rest. 

    My doula came around then and was very helpful and sweet. Then around 11:30 that night, I started throwing up. They thought maybe it was the epidural. They said that can sometimes make people nauseous. They were checking all that and my doula was like, “She might be in transition. Why don’t we check?” And I was fully dilated which was so exciting. I was getting ready to push and I was happy to finally be doing something and feeling productive. 

    I was pushing for a while. After about an hour or so, the doctor that was with me switched out with another doctor. I think she had another surgery to be in or something. The doctor that came in was the doctor that did my first C-section. He almost immediately– he hadn’t been in the room very long but he said that if I couldn’t push the baby out that they would have to use forceps or do a C-section. 

    Meagan: Had he been pushing with you at all at this point or did he just bluntly say these things before even assessing? 

    Sydney: Yeah. He had been in there maybe for five minutes. I was so discouraged and my doula just looked at me and winked like, “Don’t worry about that.” 

    Meagan: Don’t worry. Yeah. Ignore what he just said. 

    Sydney: Yeah. I think it took me– we started pushing around 12:30 and then he was born I think at 2:30 or so. So 2-2 ½ hours of pushing. 

    Meagan: That’s not long at all. 

    Sydney: It wasn’t too bad. That was really sweet. I finally got to have a vaginal birth. My husband was there. He got to announce the gender and cut the cord. I got him on my chest immediately and it was really sweet. I did have a 3A tear which was–

    Meagan: 3rd degree, yeah. 

    Sydney: Yeah. It was a tough recovery with that but otherwise, it was a really, really good experience. Again, not in the birth center, not the natural birth that I had envisioned but it went so much better than I could have anticipated. 

    Meagan: Good. 

    Sydney: I’m really thankful for that. 

    Meagan: I want to talk about that a little bit before we get into due dates. Like you said, it wasn’t the natural birth you anticipated, but in the end, you had an epidural that truly was such an amazing tool in your labor. At first, you couldn’t get it, but then you were able to rest, and like you said, “I didn’t anticipate feeling this good.” The world puts such shame on people for both sides actually of, “Hey, if you don’t go unmedicated then you’re crazy and you’re going to have a C-section,” or “Hey, if you go unmedicated, you’re crazy and then if you get an epidural then you’re crazy and you’re going to have a C-section.” 

    It’s just not that way. We need to take out these absolute statements of, “If you do this, you won’t have this,” because it’s not true. I can’t tell you enough. We get so many emails of, “I really want to VBAC so badly but I just don’t feel I can go unmedicated. It’s not my personality. It’s not what I desire.” They’re like, “It just sucks that I can’t have a VBAC because I don’t want to go unmedicated.” I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, wait. If you want a VBAC, you don’t have to go unmedicated.” 

    It’s the same thing with induction. Are there some things around induction that may increase some risks or some chances? Yes. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen though, right? This provider that started you out with this induction is a really great way to induce. Yeah. You had progressed a little bit before with your first so that’s also a really great factor, but yeah. You don’t have to go unmedicated to have a vaginal birth in general. 

    I mean, look at all of the people that truly don’t go unmedicated. It doesn’t make you less of a person if you don’t have an epidural. Something I love about your stories, both of them, is that you had the discussion with the midwives but you had this thing of, “Okay. We’re going to go to the hospital now. I’m making this choice for me, for my baby, and this is what I feel good about.” I think that’s important to note too. Sometimes plans change and plans can change. 

    Sydney: Yes, yes. I held it a lot more loosely the second time around than I did the first. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Well, I think it’s just because in the world we get a lot of pressure and shame for decisions that we make. My kids are in a lot of sports and I get shamed for my kids being in sports and that has nothing to do with anybody else’s life. Yeah. Listeners, you guys birth the way you desire. If that’s a repeat Cesarean, that’s a repeat Cesarean. If that’s an induction, that’s an induction. If it’s unmedicated, medicated, or whatever it may be, birth the way you want. But on the way to birthing the way you want, make informed choices by getting the education and the knowledge behind every choice that you are making. 

    Okay, so due dates. Here you have two babies that have gone over 42 weeks. Neither of them had many issues or anything. Maybe we had some mec which is common, especially in postdate babies. 

    So I want to talk about what postdate means or what all of the terms mean. An early-term baby is between 37 and 38+6. That’s an early-term baby. A full-term baby is 39 to 40+6. A late-term baby is 41-41+6 and then a post-term baby is 42 weeks or later. Technically, you had two postdate babies. I had an early, a full, and a late baby. I had three different ones. 

    One of the resources that we love so much is Rebecca Dekker at Evidence Based Birth. If you guys have not checked out that website, it’s so amazing. They turn studies into English for the people who can’t understand a lot of these studies because it’s really hard. They turn them into English. 

    One of the things that she talks about on this specific blog which we’ll have in the show notes is titled “Evidence on Due Dates.” One of the things she talks about, and shame me if I’m pronouncing this wrong, but it’s called the Negel’s Rule. It’s something I had never really heard about until probably a year ago but back in the 40s, a professor in the Netherlands created this rule on how to calculate estimated due dates. 

    She says, “Based on the records of 100 pregnant women, they have figured an estimated due date by adding 7 dates to their last period,” then that is 9 months. It’s crazy though because if you think about this world and our periods as women, we are not the same. Nobody. I can guarantee you that I am not the same as my neighbor or my friend or even my sister. We have different cycles and this was based on a 28-day cycle ovulating on the 14th day. That just doesn’t happen all of the time. 

    I don’t love the method because it can be different. On the Birthful Podcast, we talk about how people sometimes carry longer. That doesn’t mean that they’re super, super, super overdue. It just means that they have carried longer. In her blog, she talks about a person that had a 44-day cycle so she may have been viewed as 42 weeks or 41 weeks + 2 days, but really, she was 40 weeks. So we were adding a week and two days onto this due date and we’re telling people that we’re got a higher chance of stillbirth and things like that but really because of her long cycle, she is 40 weeks. 

    It’s just so hard. It’s so hard. I mean, there is research and this blog is amazing but even then, it’s hard. But we do want to talk about the risks of going past your due date. What risks, Sydney, did people tell you about going past your due dates? For you and baby, was there anything said that was very specific like, “If you go one more day, this is going to happen or more than likely to happen?” 

    Sydney: The biggest thing that stands out in my mind is the meconium and the risk of baby aspirating and then also just the general risk of stillbirth going up after 42 weeks were the two obvious things that I remember. 

    Meagan: Yeah. That is correct. The risk of moderate or thick meconium increases every week starting at 38 weeks. It’s interesting. We don’t know exactly why a baby has a bowel movement in utero all the time. Sometimes it’s due dates. Maybe sometimes it’s stress or a really fast transition or whatever. They just do. We don’t know exactly why all of the time, but it does seem to peak between that 38-42 weeks. It’s 3% at 37 weeks, 5% at 38 weeks, 8% at 39 weeks, 13% at 40, 17% at 41 and 18% at 42 weeks. An 18% chance that a baby may have a bowel movement within that 42 weeks. 18% might sound really, really high but to some people, they’re like, “Okay, well if it happens.” 

    Then like you were saying, we worry about the risk of aspiration. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. If it does, sometimes we have other issues. Another risk for infants is the increased chances of NICU admission. They were the lowest at 39 weeks at 3.9% and rose up to 7.2% at 42 weeks. Again, some people may look at that and say, “That’s enough for me to have a baby at 39 weeks.” Some people might be like, “7.2%. I’ll take the chances.” It’s a totally personal preference. 

    One of the other risks, and when I say risks, I’m really putting quotations around this because it’s one of those eye-rollers for me. It’s a big baby. A lot of providers will say, “Oh, your baby is going to get way big. You might not be able to have that vaginal birth.” Especially with VBACs, it’s like, “Last time, your baby was larger.” Let’s say last time your baby was 8 pounds, but this time it could be really big if you keep going. It shows that for greater than 9 pounds, 15 ounces rose during 38 weeks which is 0.5%, and then doubled at 42 weeks which is 6%. But I mean, we recorded a story last week with Morgan whose baby was 10 pounds, 12 ounces. Big babies still come out and they’re just fine. It’s hard to hear the risk of the big baby because why are we shaming these babies? It’s fine if they’re big. It’s fine if they’re chunky. We love when they’re chunky. 

    And then some of the risks of having a lower APGAR score or stillbirth. The stillbirth I think is probably one of the most intense risks that we look at. It’s the scariest risk for obvious reasons. It says, “Absolute risk is an actual risk of something happening to you. For example, if the absolute risk of having a stillbirth at 41 risks was 1.7 out of 1000, then that means that 1.7 mothers of 1000 or 17 out of 10,000 will experience a stillbirth.” So you hear that and it’s very scary. 

    Then it says, “Relative risk is the risk of something happening to you in comparison to somebody else. If someone said that the risk of a stillbirth at 42 weeks compared to 41 weeks was 94% higher, then that sounds like a lot but some people may consider that that actual or absolute risk is still quite low at 1.7 versus 3.2.” We’ve had a post like this. It actually stirred up a lot of angst because we talked about some absolute risk and some relative risk and actual risk, but really it can be very scary to hear a 94% higher chance than a 3.2% chance. 

    Ultimately, yes. There are risks of stillbirth the longer we go. There are risks of placental issues or infections in moms because there is a whole other category of risks for moms that we a lot of the time don’t talk about too much. But yeah. It’s just a matter of what is best for you. At the beginning of the podcast, you said, “I haven’t met a lot of people who have carried as long as me.” 

    I was telling you that in eight and a half years of being a doula, I have had one client specifically– I’ve had some 42-weekers at one or two days, but one client specifically who went 43 weeks and 1 day. It started at 40 weeks. Her provider was like, “You have to induce. You have to induce. You have to induce. She was like, “No, I don’t want to.” Then at 41 weeks, the same thing happened. “You have to induce.” At 42 weeks, she was like, “I’m over it. I don’t want to be here anymore.” She called me and she was like, “I’m changing providers. Does that change anything?” Her home was farther away from me than her hospital location so she was like, “I’m changing providers. Does that change anything to do with you supporting me? Because I need to know if I need to find a provider closer to you or if you’ll come to me.” 

    I’m like, “Yeah. I’ll go wherever you go.” So she called I think it was the next day. At this point, she was 42 weeks + 1 day. She was like, “I found a provider. She’s out here by me. She’s going to support me.” I’m like, “Okay, great.” She goes to 42 weeks and the doctor is like, “We’re going to do two non-stress tests this week. We’re just going to check.” They did and they were like, “Everything’s great. No problem. Baby might be on the larger side, but other than that, everything’s looking great.” 

    At the next one, she was like, “Yep. Everything’s looking good.” She’s now at 42 weeks and 5 days. I’m like, “Wow.” This is the first and this is in the very beginning of my doula career. I’m like, “Does this really happen? What is happening?” I was feeling nervous because I still didn’t know much then. 

    Anyway, at 43 weeks or the day before 43 weeks, she went to her provider and they were like, “You’re really not showing a ton of progress. You’re barely effaced. You’re maybe a centimeter.” 

    Sydney: Oh my gosh. So triggering for me. 

    Meagan: Yes. Well and for her, she was like, “I’m never going to have a baby.” She said that. She was anxious. She was like, “I think I’m going to be pregnant forever.” I’m like, “No, you’re not going to be pregnant forever.” But you can understand where she’s coming from. 

    Sydney: Yeah. I just don’t believe that people go into labor on their own. I just don’t get that concept. 

    Meagan: Yeah because of your situation which I totally understand. Yeah. They were like, “How about you come in tomorrow? Let’s do this. Let’s induce this labor. Let’s have this baby.” So she called me and I was like, “Yeah, do it if you want to.” We went over everything so she was like, “Yeah, okay. I’m going to do it.” She actually started contracting through the night and we were like, “Oh, she’s going into labor.” I do think she was actually going into labor because we went in. She had only progressed another half a centimeter but she was contracting. I wouldn’t say that they were anything too crazy strong or anything but they were there. 

    But then they did induce the labor with those contractions and at 43 weeks + 1 day, she had a really chunky little boy. Everything was really great. Nothing was wrong. He did have meconium. He pooped. They believe that he pooped on the way out so he wasn’t super gray or anything but yeah. It’s just very interesting. It’s very, very interesting. Due dates are interesting and it might be a hangup for you for a long time. 

    Sydney: Mhmm. I always was so curious about this and they said, “We think you’re probably just one of those women that if we let you go, you would naturally go to 43 or 44 weeks. Some women just carry longer. Some women carry shorter. Everyone is different.” 

    Meagan: Yep. Yep. I keep thinking Gayle. Gayle is what is coming to my mind for the podcast with Birthful. She talks about that. Some people just go to 43 and 44 weeks. It’s crazy but again, back to what was in that study on Rebecca Dekker’s blog is that it’s not that she was 42 or 43 weeks. That’s where the hangup in my mind comes from. This is where she is based on her last period based on this calculation that Google does or the little wheel. My doctor back in the day had a little wheel to tell me when I was due. That doesn’t mean that that’s when my baby is due and it doesn’t mean that I had that 28-day cycle and I ovulated at day 14. 

    Really, that’s my hang-up in my head. What more can we do with these due dates? How can we calculate these due dates better because, in my opinion, induction is also really, really high? We’ve got a high Cesarean rate, a high induction rate, and a lot of people going in. Induction is just fine if that’s what you are wanting but a lot of people are getting that pressure to induce and they are getting these scary things being said. Let’s figure out what these due dates and these guesstimation dates really mean. 

    Honestly, there is not enough evidence without induction and stuff like that, I don’t think, to really, really, really, really know what the average length of pregnancy is. 

    Sydney: Yeah, that’s probably a good point because people just don’t go that long. They get induced. 

    Meagan: Yeah, they just don’t. In your mind, you’re like, “I wholeheartedly do not believe that anyone can go into spontaneous labor. I don’t get it,” because you’ve had two experiences and it makes sense. You’re welcome to feel that way but at the same time, it’s like what is missing here? Like your midwife said, “You’re probably one of those that we would let you go and you would go.” But does that really mean you’re 44 weeks? Does that mean you’re 41 or are you actually 42 at that point?”

    Sydney: Yeah. We do plan to have more at some point, but I’m going to track my cycle consistently and track the actual conception date if I can and make sure I know exactly when and probably even do an early ultrasound which I haven’t done before just because it’s always the question people want to ask. “Well, are you sure about your due date? Are you sure about your cycle?” I can’t be 100% sure about my cycle but I can be 100% sure about when my last period was. I know what that is. Yeah. I field that question a lot. 

    Meagan: You know, it’s an interesting thing that just popped into my head. Remember when I told you earlier that I’ve had an early term, a full term, and a late term? With my third baby, we were crazy. We were trying for a boy specifically and my friend was like, “Read this book.” I was like, “I’m going to follow this to a T.” We had two girls and my husband was like, “This is the last. You have one more try to get your VBAC.” He was really, really stern on this one more baby. I was like, “Okay, fine.” I was waiting for him. Before he was ready, I started temping. I mean, going more extreme. It consumed me a little bit but I really got familiar with my body because I really wanted to try for this boy. 

    Anyway, so I had temped and done everything. We conceived. I knew almost the hour. It was ridiculous. It was absolutely ridiculous. I knew exactly when I got pregnant and I was 41 weeks, 5 days but with my first, they said that my due date originally was October 26th and then she was measuring small so then they bumped it up to November 6th, 10 days later. She ended up coming November 4th but then I wondered, “Was I early? Was I late? What was I?” because I wasn’t tracking. 

    With my second, she came at 38 weeks, 5 days so it makes me wonder there too because I wasn’t really paying attention but I felt very pregnant. But then she was small so they were like, “No, it was totally fine.” I’m like, “She was measuring small from the very beginning.” It always makes me wonder. Maybe I was closer to the 40-week mark or maybe I was almost 41 weeks. I don’t know. It’s fascinating. 

    Sydney: It is, yeah. 

    Meagan: And it’s hard. It’s hard because we don’t know and we are only trying to do what’s best. We are only trying to do what we are given the information on. As always, we have to follow our gut and decide what’s best for us. We’ll make sure to include those studies. If you guys are listening and you find this interesting too, go down to the show notes. Find it. Read them. Listen to the podcast. It’s a really, really great episode. 

    Anyway Sydney, thank you so much. 

    Sydney: Thank you for having me on. 

    Meagan: Thank you for bringing this conversation to the table because it’s not one that we talk a lot about. But I’m sure you’ve got some frustration. Like you said, “It’s kind of triggering to hear that.” 

    Sydney: Yeah. It’s not fair that I have to do all of this work before I actually go into labor. We’ll see what I do for the next one. I’ve said, “I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to get induced at 42 weeks.” But I’m sure when the next one comes along, I’ll be like, “No, I really want to try and do it naturally.”

    Meagan: Let’s do the castor oil again. There are some ways to naturally induce like breast stimulation or sex and starting sex earlier on or evening primrose oil and things like that. Things that we can start doing at 38 weeks leading up. But even then, it’s not a guarantee and sometimes it can be frustrating when you’re like, “I’m doing all of the things. I’m taking castor oil and I’ve puked it back up three times and I’m still not having a baby.” 

    Sydney: Yes. Well at this point, it will probably be a matter of, “I’m just going to trust my body. My body knows. My baby knows when they’re ready to come out.” I just need to follow my intuition and weigh that risk like you talked about. 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Sydney: Yeah, but we’ll see. I don’t have to worry about it yet. I’m not rushing it. 

    Meagan: You don’t. You don’t. You don’t have to worry about it but keep grabbing the information so then you’ll be prepared. 

    Sydney: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you very much. 

    Meagan: Awesome. Thank you. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    49m | May 10, 2023
  • Episode 233 Morgan's Empowering VBAC + The Power of Doulas

    Morgan’s story is full of so much joy! You will be smiling ear to ear when you finish listening to Morgan tell her VBAC story alongside her VBAC Link Doula, Jennie. She is a beautiful example of why The VBAC Link Podcast exists. We want these stories to inspire you to heal from past birth experiences so that you can view your future births with all the light and love you deserve. 

    Morgan worked so hard to heal from her first birth and prepared for her second in every way. She created a team where she could feel 100% safe in her vulnerability. She knew that she could fully trust them through any wild twists and turns of birth. And they definitely happened! But even with the extreme intensity, Morgan walked away from her VBAC with absolute gratitude and joy.

    Additional Links

    Morgan’s Website

    Jennie’s Website

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, women of strength. We have an amazing episode for you today but first I want to talk to you just a little bit about postpartum depression. Studies show that 1 in 7 new mamas will develop postpartum depression. It’s scary and a topic that doesn’t really get discussed a lot. So before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to share a little bit about our podcast sponsor and partner, Happiest Baby. 

    As you guys know from listening to The VBAC Link, this podcast means so much to me. I love every single one of you. I know that’s hard to believe because I don’t personally know every single one of you, but it is true. I love this community so much and it means so much to me that Dr. Harvey Karp and his company Happiest Baby are such big supporters of VBAC and are supporting our mission. 

    One of their biggest products that people may know or have heard of is called the Snoo. The Snoo is an amazing baby bed that can truly help many mams out there during their postpartum journey, especially if you were like me and have a husband or partner that has to go right back to work and is left with these amazing, cute, snuggly babies but also exhausted. Whether you had a C-section or a vaginal birth, for those few days and let’s be honest, probably months, you’re just exhausted. 

    I was in pure survival mode. So many people refer to the Snoo as “the mama helper” who's there to help soothe your baby so you can just get a few more hours of sleep. They even have a rental program which I think is pretty awesome so you don’t actually have to buy the bassinet. 

    As I started to learn more about Dr. Karp and his mission, I just loved learning that he is so passionate about reducing postpartum depression in parents. They even got FDA approval which I believe is the only bassinet or baby bed that has been FDA-approved. It’s also been known for reducing SIDS in babies as well. 

    I asked our community for their reviews of Snoo and I was overwhelmed by the positive responses. I just wanted to say thank you to Dr. Karp for creating the Snoo and helping millions of mamas sleep for just a few more hours at night so we can continue bonding with our babies and having a better postpartum experience. Thank you, Happiest Baby. 

    Hello, hello, and happy Wednesday. This is Meagan, your host, at The VBAC Link Podcast and we have a cohost today. We have Jennie so welcome, Jennie. 

    Jennie: Thank you, hi. 

    Meagan: Yes. She is one of our VBAC doulas and we actually have a fun episode that she is personally connected to because we have one of her doula clients which is always so fun. I think it’s really fun because when Julie and I would listen to stories, we didn’t have personal connections so we’re hearing it for the first time but it’s kind of fun to hear it from the storyteller as well as someone who experienced the birth. 

    So again, thank you for being here with us today. Morgan from New York, so New Yorkers, listen up because this is a great VBAC story. She’s going to be here with us today. 

    Review of the Week 

    Meagan: But of course, we have a Review of the Week and our cute Jennie is going to read it for us. 

    Jennie: Great. This is from laurateachesmusicstayathomemom and her subject is, “I did it.” She says, “I’ve been listening to you ladies for months and getting ready for my VBAC after two Cesareans. I had our baby yesterday with an unmedicated hospital birth. Still amazed and ecstatic. I said if this all works out, I’m going to share my VBAC story on the podcast. Hope to talk soon. Hearing the many stories assisted me in my positive outcome. Thank you for serving the world in this way.” 

    Meagan: Oh, thank you so much and that was from Laura. That is such a great review. Thank you so much. I know that a lot of the listeners when we reach out on Instagram, we have a lot of people say, “I want more VBA2C, VBAC after two Cesarean, stories.” So Laura, if you are still listening, contact us. We would love to share your story because I know the world wants to hear it. 

    Morgan’s Stories 

    Meagan: Okay, cute Morgan. Welcome to the show. 

    Morgan: Thank you so much. 

    Meagan: Thank you so much for being here. I always love sharing these VBAC stories but I really do love it when the doula is with us. I’m going to turn the time over to you to share your VBAC story. 

    Morgan: Awesome, thank you so much. Yeah. I’m really excited that Jennie will be with us as well. Of course, we have to start with the reason why I needed a VBAC. You can’t have a VBAC without the C.

    Meagan: How it all happened, right?

    Morgan: My daughter, Audrey, is four and she was an unplanned, unwanted, unneeded Cesarean after induction in 48 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing, and she was just still floating. I didn’t know all of the things that I know now. I didn’t have a doula. I thought I couldn’t afford one. I didn’t do all of the things. 

    That birth was very traumatic and postpartum was really hard. I swore I would never have another baby because I thought it would be the same thing again. 

    About a year later, I also became a doula and saw other people having subsequent births that weren’t traumatic, especially after the first one that was. I was like, “Oh, okay. It doesn’t have to be the same.” So I got pregnant again and unfortunately miscarried but then three months later, we got pregnant with my son, Will, who is one now. He is about 14 months. 

    Even before I got pregnant, I had known Jennie and we had met through the Cesarean group that she runs, the Cesarean/VBAC group that she runs locally and I knew that I needed her as my doula. I made sure that she was going to be free that month when I was planning on getting pregnant and planning on having a baby. I did all of the prep work– having Jennie, chiropractic, acupuncture, craniosacral, pelvic floor PT, Spinning Babies Daily Essentials, therapy for me, and switching to midwifery care. My midwife even said to me, “Do you think you’re doing too much?” I said, “No. I think for my type of personality I need to do it all because then I know if I need another Cesarean, it wasn’t because of me.” 

    Meagan: It wasn’t anything you didn’t do. Yeah. It leaves out the what if. That’s totally my personality too. I’m like, “I know it might sound extreme that I’m doing all of these crazy things.” And when I say crazy, it’s air-quote crazy but to people, it sounds really excessive. I needed to know that if it ended in a Cesarean, there was nothing that I didn’t do. It would have helped me be more content with the outcome I think. I totally get it. 

    Morgan: Jennie says all of the time, “As soon as you accept that a Cesarean may be the way that it happens the second time, especially after a primary Cesarean is when you can really heal and achieve that VBAC.” I had been having prodromal labor for probably two weeks and every night before bed, I texted Jennie, “Don’t go to bed. It’s going to be tonight.” In the morning, I’d text her, “Sorry.”

    Jennie: It was fine. It was fine. I wanted to touch on one thing about the prep work with you, Morgan, because you did so much work in the four years that you came to the group. Morgan, the first time that she came in was like, “I’m never having another baby. I’m never doing that again.” You did so much emotional work over the course of years to get yourself to a point where not only were you prepared physically, but you were really prepared emotionally and that was so awesome to see. 

    Meagan: Oh, yeah. I bet. 

    Morgan: Thank you. Yeah, it was a lot. So then comes December 8th and I woke up with a bloody nose which I never ever get bloody noses. I texted Jennie and I said, “I have a bloody nose and the last time and one of the only times in my life that I’ve had one is the day I went into labor with Audrey.” 

    Meagan: Really? 

    Morgan: Yeah. Could this be a sign of labor? We’re like, “Yeah, maybe. Whatever.”

    Jennie: I’m like, “Get off Google.” 

    Meagan: Yeah, right?

    Morgan: I asked Jennie to Google everything for me because I didn’t want to go down the rabbit hole. 

    Meagan: That’s actually really healthy. That’s really healthy. 

    Jennie: Yeah. I’m always happy to do it. 

    Morgan: Yes. She always sent me evidence-based things and peer-reviewed so I wasn’t like, “Oh, I got a bloody nose. Now I have cancer.” You know?

    Meagan: Uh-huh. Yeah. 

    Morgan: So just tried to keep myself busy. I took my daughter to the store with me to pick up a prescription and then she asked if we could go to my parents for lunch. I remember standing at my parents’ house and my dad was like, “Sit down. Have a cup of coffee.” I said, “No. I feel like the baby’s in a really good position. I just want to stand and let gravity do its thing,” because I feel like the prodromal labor was because he was in a funky position. 

    I finally sat down and had a cup of coffee. Maybe five minutes later, I felt a little pop and a little tear, and then a big movie theater, a movie scene gush of water. I just said, “My water just broke.” My mom, my dad, and my daughter were all sitting there. My dad hopped up and he was like, “I’ll get you a towel.” He came back with a washcloth. I said, “Dad, you have five children. Do you not remember that there might be a lot of water?”

    Meagan: This is birth, not a spilled glass of water. 

    Morgan: Yeah. It was a lot. I was borderline poly so I had a lot of fluid. Polyhydramnios. 

    So at first, my parents are like, “Well, you’ve got to go. You’ve got to go.” I’m like, “No, no, no. The next 24-48 hours. I need to just relax, go home, and take a nap.” So that’s what I did. My husband, Billy, met me at the door. We finished packing Audrey’s bag. My parents live five minutes away. He brought her bag. She was going to be staying there while we were at the hospital. I laid down to take a nap after texting Jennie saying, “My water broke. I”m going to try to nap,” but I was really anxious and really excited. 

    Meagan: Super normal. 

    Morgan: Yeah. But I remember with my daughter, this took a long time. Early labor was at least 12 hours and then I went straight to the hospital and had an induction. I was like, “I just want to be calm. I need to be in my bed. I need to just zen out,” and I couldn’t. I had been taking baths and doing some prep work in that way so I’m like, “I’m going to take a bath and do my thing and try to calm down.” Contractions did start in the bathtub, but they weren’t painful. But at the peak of them, I was having little mini panic attacks. I don’t know if it was because I was by myself at home or just excited or what, but I called my husband and said, “Make sure our daughter is good, but I need you to come back home.” 

    I also texted Jennie because as soon as I got out of the bathtub, things got pretty intense. I just texted her, “Okay, come,” because I knew she lived 30 minutes door to door from me. I knew things were really happening and I really needed at least emotional support at that point. 

    Jennie: Yeah. We’re in Rochester so it’s snowing of course. Morgan never texts one-word texts. That is not in her nature so when she was just like, “Okay, come,” I was like, “Oh, boy. Drop everything.”

    Meagan: Coming! 

    Jennie: Yep, time to go. 

    Morgan: And of course, snow makes it a little bit longer, and traffic and whatever, so by the time my husband got home about five minutes later, I was moaning through contractions on the toilet and needing to stand and hold onto his shoulders during the contractions and then just sit and release during the breaks. 

    By the time Jennie arrived, I was getting new pants on to head to the hospital. I think the first thing I said was, “I need to push. I need to go and I need to push.” 

    Meagan: Ah!

    Jennie: Yep. 

    Morgan: But I said, “I need to go to the bathroom one more time. There’s just so much fluid and it’s so intense. The toilet’s so comfortable.” I could not get off that toilet. With every contraction, I was pushing and moaning. Every break, I was like, “Why is no one going? Why are you not making me go?” Jennie finally said, “It’s going to continue to be intense. If you want to deliver at the hospital, we need to go right now.” I was like, “Okay.” 

    I got into gear. I walked to the car. I contracted twice on the way to the car and then got in and I was like, “Can I kneel? Can I kneel on the seat?” Again, I’m a rule follower. I don’t drive without my seatbelt on, but I could not sit because his head was right there. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Morgan: I give my husband so much credit. I feel like he’s been working his whole life to be the driver that he was that day. He was like someone on Mario Kart. 

    Meagan: I love that. Mario Kart. 

    Morgan: I never got, “Are we there yet? What are you doing?” or whatever. We were at home and then we were at the hospital. I think I had about six contractions on the way to the hospital. Jennie probably could tell better because you said you could see. 

    Jennie: I was behind them and I kept seeing her head come up and then her head would go down. I’m timing her head coming up and going down thinking, “Okay. She’s either starting or stopping.” I’m on the phone with my husband like, “I’m going to deliver a baby on the side of the road I’m pretty sure.” 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh!

    Morgan: Yeah. I said to my husband, “Just pull into the valet even though they aren’t running it because of COVID. Just pull in there. I know you can just park there and that’s going to be the easiest way that we get up there.” Of course, the security guard is like, “No, no, no. You can’t park here.” We’re all yelling at her, “I’m pushing!” “She’s in labor!” “Baby coming!” Finally, my husband just parked the car. I got out and she offered me a wheelchair. I said, “Can I kneel?” She was like, “Oh no, no honey. You can’t kneel.” So I just took it from her and started pushing it like a walker and walked myself up to L&D. 

    Jennie: It was my favorite thing. 

    Meagan: Then I will sort of kneel leaning onto this and walking. 

    Jennie: Yeah. She literally in one motion spun it around, gave this lady a look like, “Please move” and then started going. 

    Morgan: Meanwhile, it’s the middle of the day at a strong hospital on a Wednesday at lunchtime. There were so many people to try to navigate around. Here I am moaning and pushing and obviously pregnant, obviously in labor and these two beautiful nurses came out of nowhere. I don’t think they were L&D nurses. They took the wheelchair and told me to kneel. One of them ran up and pushed the elevator button so that we could get up to the third floor quickly. Thank God I was in that deep of labor because my husband was like, “She’s not going to take the elevator. She’s way too afraid of taking the elevator. She’s going to make us walk. She’s going to deliver in the stairwell.” And I did. I took the elevator because I could not walk up three flights of stairs at that point. 

    Meagan: No. Not with a baby coming. 

    Morgan: Right? I kept saying to him, my eyes were closed, and I’m like, “Billy, are you still here? Billy, are you still here?” He’s like, “Yes, yes.” I said, “Is Jennie here?” He said, “She’s parking and she’ll be right up.” We skipped triage completely and we went straight to a room. Someone came in and offered to check on me and I said, “Are you from my practice? I don’t know anyone with that name.” At the same time, Jennie walked in and continued to advocate for me to have my personal midwifery check me. 

    My midwife came in and she checked me and said I was fully dilated and +2. That was the moment. The moment we all dream about, it was happening. She’s like, “Morgan, keep going. Do what you’re doing.” So I was kneeling on the bed on all fours and I pushed for a short time that way, then she said, “Are you willing to move into a different position because I think if you go on your side, your pelvis shape might just shift enough that he’ll come right out.” So I was like, “Yeah, absolutely. I will do whatever you think is best.” 

    I wanted to move during the pushing stage and try different things. So I pushed on my side for a short time and I definitely started feeling the ring of fire. But then the mood in the room shifted and the midwife called out. She said, “Shoulder. Call OB.” Everything happened very quickly. She had flipped me onto my back. My feet were by my head. A nurse was on top pushing. The midwife was telling me to push and then I just felt him come out and go right in my hands and on my chest. 

    That was the best moment of my life by far. They asked my husband to cut the cord quickly since they did need to break my son’s shoulder to safely deliver him so they needed to get him over to the warmer to assess him. He wasn’t breathing well because he came so fast that his lungs weren’t squeezed and all of those things. He got suctioned. He was only there for a couple of minutes with the NICU team and then he was back with me for skin-to-skin for a couple minutes. 

    But then the midwife was saying that they were noticing that I was having a little bit more bleeding than they’d like to see. They tried some shots of Pitocin, rectal miso, and a few other things but she had said that removing the placenta is going to help start the stopping of bleeding. She asked for my consent to manually remove it. She said, “It’s going to be really uncomfortable,” and since I didn’t have an IV yet, they wouldn’t be able to give me any pain medication. 

    They tried to get an IV in nine different times during labor but every time–

    Meagan: You were probably having a contraction. 

    Jennie: Yeah. You were like, “I don’t like that. I don’t like that.” It was so polite but very firm. “I don’t like that.” They would stop. They listened. 

    Morgan: Yeah, I would have my arm out. I would be so ready for them and then a contraction would come and I’d just ruin the whole thing. But wherever they cleaned off or had a vein ready so I said, “If this is going to be that uncomfortable, I need my husband to take the baby because I’m probably going to scream in his ears.” 

    My husband took him and did skin-to-skin with him while they figured out what was happening to me. They were able to manually remove my placenta, but my uterus kind of came with it and inverted. So when they were doing the fundal massage and trying to find the borders of the uterus, they couldn’t find them. They asked if they could go back in manually and kind of push it back into place which again, those two were the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life. By the way, I had just had a 10-pound, 12-ounce baby with no medication. The amount of pain was just really overwhelming. 

    Meagan: That stuff is intense. Everything’s already tender and they’re going up and pushing things and scraping things. I mean, think about the fundal massage on the outside. It’s intense enough let alone it being on the inside. 

    Morgan: Yeah, yeah. 

    Jennie: I was impressed too with the provider because it was not the midwives at this point. It was the OB team and I don’t know if you remember this, Morgan, but you kept saying, “No OR. No OR,” because that was the big thing. We are not going to the OR for this birth even if it’s after the baby is out. That was a big sticking point. It was one of the residents, I believe, who was right by your head and she kept saying, “No OR. We’re not going to the OR. We’re going to do this here.” 

    Morgan: Yeah. I really give credit to the URNC Midwifery group that I worked with because the midwife that was there that day delivered my son, I think she advocated a lot for that. 

    Jennie: Yeah, for sure. 

    Morgan: The OBs are comfortable in the OR, especially for a third-degree tear where they are stitching for 45 minutes and they’re afraid of blood loss and all of these things. They definitely probably would have been more comfortable in the OR but I didn’t want to be separated from my baby and I did not want to be in the OR. Anything that they could do safely in that room was fine with me. 

    Finally, they were able to get an IV in and give me some pain meds. I also asked for some anxiety medication because I was very overwhelmed. 

    Jennie: Understandably. 

    Meagan: Yeah, a lot, and not even just those two things but a lot before. You just had a precipitous birth, a 10-pound baby, shoulder dystocia, all of these things. You’re hyper-stimulated at this point. 

    Morgan: Yes, yes. I got Will back on skin-to-skin. They stitched for 45 minutes or so and it was just everything that I had hoped for. Jennie was right here. My husband was right here. My baby was right here. It was calm and I felt so positive about it. I was able to call my mom and I just said to her, “Well, he’s here.” She said, “What? You just left my house!” 

    My water broke at 11:15 AM and he was born at 2:50 PM, so very, very, very fast. It was so positive. Looking back, I think that my Cesarean was very textbook, very typical, easy, whatever, but I had so much trauma associated with it and then if you look at my vaginal birth, it had a lot of complications but there’s no trauma associated with it because I felt so supported and so educated and informed. The midwifery group asked for my consent for everything even when it was an emergency. The birth and postpartum time was, I don’t even remember having the baby blues. I think I only cried because I was just so happy and so proud of myself and so grateful for the team that we had around us. It was incredible. 

    Meagan: Oh my goodness. I love that you talked about the fact that you’re like, “I had this textbook C-section, but I associate it this way. Then I had this crazy thing with unknowns that you could definitely say were traumatic but you look at it differently.” It’s so interesting how we as individuals and human beings how in a position like that where you have an undesired, unplanned, unwanted as you described it, situation where you didn’t feel like you had a lot of real true say along the way, but then this one where you definitely had some things happen that were undesired and unplanned but you had a say along the way and it has impacted you so much in a positive way. 

    It just goes to show how informed consent, education, and support around you make such a big impact, right? 

    Morgan: Yeah, yeah. 

    Meagan: I had some weird things with my VBAC and then I had textbook Cesareans that were not necessarily wanted, but I was alone with my first and had no one talking to me, and the same thing. I view that as not a pleasant experience and then even though I had some frustrations, I was still frustrated that things happened in certain ways with my VBAC, but I was still so happy and overall, I view it so differently. 

    I would say if there are any providers out there or all of our doulas listening and Jennie, I’d love to know your two cents on this too, but I think it’s so important to remind your patients and to remind yourself that your patients are people. They are living this experience. They need that informed consent. They need that knowledge and that guidance. Even those moments of, “You’ve got this. We’re going to be okay,” or “Hey, I see this. Let’s try this.” Anything like that. Or, “I know this is going to be really intense but we’re going to be right here with you.” That can just make such a difference. I don’t know, Jennie, if you have anything that you would like to add. 

    Jennie: At our support group, we say all the time that you can’t control your birth. We know this. You can do everything that you can to prepare, but one thing that Morgan has said often is that she totally trusted us. She picked us because she trusted us. She knew that whatever happened, we were going to have her back. I tell people all the time that a doula/client relationship, a provider/patient relationship is so intimate and vulnerable. There are so many of us out there that if I’m not the doula for you, if my provider isn’t the provider for you, that’s fine. Go find someone else who is. You need to be able to be completely trusting and vulnerable in the moment. 

    Because Morgan did the work and found her team, she was able to take something that on paper might look traumatic and have it be so empowering and wonderful and the best day of her life. I’m so proud of you, Morgan, still even though it’s been a year. 

    Morgan: Thank you. 

    Jennie: The other really empowering thing that sticks out to me is that no one ever told you that they needed to take him away from you. He was on you during all of everything and the only time he was taken away from you aside from right at first to check everything was when you said, “Billy, can you please take him? I don’t feel comfortable.” I think for providers to hear how much that changed your experience knowing where he was, knowing he was on you or on his father, that was so important. As a doula and the photographer standing back and watching it happen and being a part of it, knowing that your baby was somewhere that you were comfortable with and where you could see him at all times was really, really cool. 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Morgan: Truly, truly the only reason that I felt comfortable and confident doing that was knowing that Jennie, you were right there by my side too because if Billy was over there with Will and I was by myself, I would have said, “Take him to the warmer or take him wherever. I’m not comfortable being in this emergency state with my support person not right by my side,” but because I had you and trusted you completely, I knew that I could have Billy go and take care of him and I would be okay. 

    I’m so grateful because I definitely would like to be able to control my environment and with birth, you can’t control much. You try and you definitely have preferences advocated for, but being able to release that to the people that I trust the most in my life was really incredible. I’ve never felt so cared for and so confident about the care. 

    Meagan: That is so beautiful. So beautiful. I’m so grateful for you sharing your story. Jennie, thank you so much for being here. We love when our VBAC doulas are on the podcast, especially with their clients. We really do because again, I know you guys maybe can’t see what I can see right now, but the joy on Jennie’s face as she’s listening to this, you can tell she is wholeheartedly proud and just so amazed by Morgan. She even said, “I’m still so proud of you even though it’s been a year.” You can really see it in her face. 

    Morgan, you said that you are a doula now. You guys understand. As a doula, I’m just going to rave about doulas for a quick second. As a doula, it is an absolute honor to be invited into someone’s space. It’s a very intimate, beautiful space and to be invited into that space is absolutely an honor. And then to be able to witness this beautiful event, this beautiful birthday? It’s so incredible. So incredible. We hold on to them forever. 

    I mean, I’ve been a doula for eight and a half years and I will never forget the first or the second of the third, right? It’s not that I remember every detail of every birth but there are things that stand out like grabbing a wheelchair and being like, “Yeah, move out of my way. I’m going upstairs,” or even just knowing that person so well as Jennie said. She has elaborate messages every time. She writes a lot so for her to say, “Yeah, come.” We get to know our clients so well and truly, I always tell people. You don’t have to be my best friend but I want you to know that I’m always going to be your friend and I’m always going to be there for you because really, it’s such an amazing experience to be with people and watch these incredible births just like yours, Morgan. 

    Jennie: Absolutely. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    34m | May 3, 2023
  • Episode 232 Rachel's VBAC + Placenta Previa + C-Sections & Dental Health

    Rachel is a pediatric dentist who owns her own practice in Pensacola, Florida. She fought for an empowering second birth experience even with an initial diagnosis of complete placenta previa. When her placenta thankfully moved, Rachel was cleared to go for her VBAC and she was all in!

    Rachel drove six hours to be able to birth with the provider she knew would best support her VBAC. With her doula and supportive family by her side, Rachel achieved the beautiful birth she envisioned. 

    Additional Links

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Women of strength, you are listening to The VBAC Link and I cannot wait for today’s story. Reading this story, there are so many twists. Not even twists I should say, but factors to this story. We have our friend Rachel telling it from Florida so welcome, Rachel. 

    Rachel: Thank you so much. I’m so, so honored to be on this podcast. I can’t believe I’m actually getting to share this amazing journey with you guys so thank you for having me. 

    Meagan: We are honored that you are here with us. Yeah. I feel like there are quite a few things within your story. Things like baby’s position, placenta previa which we are going to talk a lot about at the end, even dental stuff, close duration, so there are a lot of things where I feel like people can relate to this story. 

    Review of the Week

    I will read a review and then we will get right into your beautiful story. Today’s reviewer is haley222222. It says, “I can’t recommend enough. I found this podcast shortly after my C-section in 2019 with my first and it has helped me so much. My doctor had told me that I was only going to be able to have four children because I was going to have C-sections from here on out. This podcast opened my eyes to the possibilities I didn’t have a clue about and I had options.” 

    Oh, I just scrolled, and okay. Here we go. 

    It says, “I was able to find providers that I trusted and who actually believed in me. I prepared for my VBAC and unfortunately, my first VBAC was a stillborn at 26 weeks, second baby boy in October of 2022.” 

    So sorry to hear that, Haley. 

    It says, “Although it was heartbreaking, it was truly an amazing experience and I can’t wait to have another vaginal birth hopefully with a better outcome and a baby we can bring home. I am pregnant with my third now and I’m relistening to all of the episodes. I am so excited to do this. I am in the process of hiring a doula and we will be taking a birth course this time around. Thank you so much for creating this podcast and I’m so grateful for all that I have learned.” 

    Well, Haley, thank you so much. Again, my condolences to you on your second and congrats on your third, and thank you so much for sharing your review. 

    Rachel’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, we have our friend Rachel. Like I said earlier, she is from Florida. So you are a dentist and you have your own clinic, is this right?

    Rachel: Yes. I am a pediatric dentist. I only work on children. We have a private practice in Pensacola, Florida which is the panhandle of Florida. It’s lower Alabama, kind of LA but it’s on that end of the spectrum, not south Florida. 

    Meagan: Awesome. That is so exciting. So, so exciting. 

    Rachel: Thank you. 

    Meagan: Well, thank you so much for being with us. I would love to turn the time over to you to share this story and then at the end, we’ll get into that placenta previa and some dental stuff. 

    Rachel: I know, who would have thought that dentistry could be related to C-sections? 

    Meagan: Who would have thought? Really, though. 

    Rachel: I know. It’s all related. 

    Meagan: We never talk about it so I’m excited too. 

    Rachel: Well, I guess I’ll just get excited about my children journey. Again, I’m just so thankful that I get to talk on this podcast. I listen to you guys every single day when I was preparing for a VBAC and Meagan, what you’re doing is changing so many people’s lives. Like we talked about, I’m sure recording a podcast can get a little crazy like with any job that we do, but you really are making such a difference in so many people’s lives so I really thank you for that. 

    Meagan: Oh, thank you. Thank you. 

    Rachel: Yes. So okay, my children journey I guess what you could say started in Gainesville. My husband and I were living in Gainesville. He was finishing up an orthodontic residency at that time and I was working as a pediatric dentist. I had just finished residency and I was working at a private practice. We became pregnant with our first baby. They said I had a subchorionic hematoma around 7 weeks and said, “Don’t worry.” It’s a pretty common thing I think. 

    Meagan: It is. 

    Rachel: I came back for a follow-up ultrasound anyway around 10 weeks or so and no heartbeat. We had a miscarriage. They gave me two options, either the misoprostol pill to pass the baby or the D&C.

    Meagan: Cytotec. 

    Rachel: Yeah, or the D&C. After talking to a lot of people, I just decided to have the D&C. It seemed less emotionally scarring. Anyway, so we did that. Right around that time, the day before surgery, the whole COVID thing in 2020 started and they said that for some reason, dentists were considered non-essential so everything was shut down for the whole month of April. 

    Meagan: What?!

    Rachel: I had never not worked my whole life. This was the most time I had ever had off ever so it was crazy. I was not working. I had scheduled the D&C. That morning, I had a 99-degree fever or something. My OB in Gainesville was amazing. The whole hospital staff was like, “Oh my gosh. She might have COVID. We can’t do the surgery.” Yeah, so crazy. My OB had to vouch for me to say that I didn’t have COVID and that we could still do the D&C anyway. I’m pretty sure I was the last elective surgery to have done and then after the date, literally I think it was March 20th, and the day after, they stopped doing elective surgeries and stuff. 

    I was super thankful for that. It’s Dr. Erin in Gainesville and she was just awesome. We had a miscarriage. It was a super tough time for me and my husband. I just remember praying and asking God to comfort us because we are Christians and I just really believe that God is close to the brokenhearted. The Bible says, “He’s near to the brokenhearted.” It’s still hard though because he’s not here to comfort you physically. I just remember I was praying and there was this dove that came to our house and lived in our backyard. It was so crazy. For several weeks, he just made a nest on the ground.

    Meagan: That just gave me the chills. 

    Rachel: It is. I’m telling you, I prayed so hard. He can comfort you but he’s not going to give you a hug or something. I don’t know. Do you know what I mean? So literally this dove came and lived in our yard. That dove was there. I’m not even kidding you. The day that I found out I was pregnant, the dove just left. We were like, “Where did that dove go? He was living in our yard and now he’s not there.” That was the day I found out we were pregnant with our second baby, or our first baby. 

    Meagan: Uh-uh. Wow. 

    Rachel: It was so insane. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Rachel: Yes. That was the first crazy thing. I had wanted a puppy after the miscarriage and we had a really small courtyard so my husband was like, “Well, if we get a puppy, I’m getting a monkey.” I’m like, “No.” I was like, “Well if you really do want a monkey, I can look into finding us a monkey if you’ll let me have a puppy.” He’s like, “Okay, deal.” Well, he knows not to put anything past me after that because I found a monkey and we literally have a little squirrel monkey. His name is Rocko and we have a Maltipoo whose name is Remi. 

    So the week after we got our monkey, that’s when we found out we were pregnant again. I was like, “Now we have a monkey and this puppy and now we’re going to have a baby.” That’s how life goes. If you know me, that’s just how my life goes. It’s just like, the more fun, the better. 

    Anyway, so I was pregnant with the second one. I also had a subchorionic hematoma in the beginning and Dr. Erin was like, “Okay, I know I told you not to worry about it last time but seriously it’s usually not a big deal.” But you know, you’re still worried because you have the same thinking. 

    Meagan: Yeah, trigger back a little bit. 

    Rachel: Exactly. So I was just a little worried about that, but I kept pressing forward. So then fast forward later, everything is healthy. Six months into the pregnancy, I found out that we got a great opportunity to move back to Pensacola which is where I’m from. It’s about six hours away from Gainesville. It’s near my home town. My parents live here. A pediatric dentist, Dr. Stu Bonnin was selling his dental practice in Pensacola so we decided to merge together and transition. 

    I went there. I was probably about seven months pregnant when we moved to Pensacola. I was starting up. I’m seven months pregnant. I’m starting brand new seeing all of these patients I’m just getting to know. My husband started an orthodontic practice next door which is a dream come true. We have always wanted to do this. The doors opened up to where it could happen. Timing sometimes seems crazy but it just happened that way. 

    I mean, I remember we moved here on December 24, 2020, so Christmas Eve. U-hauls are a lot cheaper then by the way. Our family had COVID so we weren’t going to go see them anyway. I remember waking up on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day morning and I was sleeping on an air mattress. We had just bought our house and moved everything in. I’m like, “Wow. What a whirlwind. This is crazy.” 

    So we moved halfway through. I’m a new business owner. So then I started seeing patients at about eight months pregnant. I’m trying to establish rapport with my new patients. I just decided it was in their best interest to work up until my due date. I worked up until my due date. At this point, I had no knowledge of birthing a baby at all which is my fault. I should have researched everything but there was just a lot going on. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself there. 

    Rachel: Knowing what I know now–

    Meagan: You had a lot of juggling pieces. 

    Rachel: I know. Plus I was like, “I don’t want to know how the baby gets here. I just want to know what to do after it gets here,” so I did a lot of Taking Cara Babies, reading how to get them to sleep through the night. I really wanted to breastfeed so I was focused on what to do when the baby gets here. 

    Meagan: Which also is something that a lot of the time we forget to do. 

    Rachel: I know. I know. It’s all hard. So I worked up until my due date. I was expecting to be two weeks late for some reason because I was two weeks late as a baby. My husband was two weeks late and we were both first babies. I’m like, “It’s going to be fine. I’ll probably just be a little late.” A week passed and I had found an OB here. They did the BPP thing, the biophysical profile. Everything had been healthy. Nothing was out of the ordinary. She started talking about inducing me because I had borderline low amniotic fluid. That’s the reason they gave me. 

    So I guess amniotic fluid level from my understanding can be anywhere from 5 centimeters to 25 centimeters and mine was a 7. So she’s like, “It’s borderline low. The baby’s not in distress but the older your placenta gets, the more likely that you’ll have a stillbirth or you can have babies born with cerebral palsy and complications.”

    Meagan: Big words, very big words. 

    Rachel: Yeah. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, well I don’t want that.” I trust the doctor. I’m a doctor. I feel like I look out for people’s best interests. I mean, I know I just deal with baby teeth but I truly want the best for my patients so I know she was probably recommending the same thing. All of that is not untrue, but anyways. Knowing what I know now, I’m just like, “What in the world?” She recommended that I be induced because of the borderline low amniotic fluid and that the longer time passes by, the increased chance of stillbirth. 

    Because I had done zero birth education, I had nothing to really guide my decision-making process and my husband wasn’t there because it was all COVID stuff. He couldn’t come to any of the appointments so I was making these decisions on my own. I was just like, “Okay. We’ll get induced. That’s fine.” I only had a month off for maternity leave anyways, so I’m like, “Okay. It’ll probably work out that the baby’s born more on time.” 

    Meagan: That you’ll have some time. 

    Rachel: Yeah, exactly. The day before, I just had this really bad feeling. I called the doctor’s office and I was like, “Hey, is there any way we can postpone the induction?” I was really nervous. They were like, “No. This is the only time. We don’t recommend that. This is the best thing.” I’m like, “Okay.” I got to the hospital. I started on, is it Cervadil?

    Meagan: Yeah, Cervadil. 

    Rachel: The insertion pill thing. 

    Meagan: So the pill is Cytotec and then there’s the tampon-looking thing and that’s Cervadil. 

    Rachel: Okay. I think that might have been what that was. So yeah. I did that. I got to 2 centimeters dilated and they started the Pitocin. So then after the Pitocin, it was a gentle induction. The doctor I went to I guess is known for gentle inductions so that was good. I got to 2 centimeters dilated. Our daughter’s name is Heidi. Her heart rate started dropping even this early on. I was only 2 centimeters dilated. Every time they turned the Pitocin up, it would drop. I was just like, “Just take me off of everything. Let’s just wait.” 

    The OB came in and she’s like, “We’ve already had nonreassuring fetal heart rates.” I hope I’m using the correct words but I think that’s what it is. 

    Meagan: Correct. 

    Rachel: It’s just not looking good so we would recommend some kind of intervention at this point. I was like, “What about an epidural?” She was like, “Maybe you could use an epidural. It would help you relax and just speed things along.” So I got an epidural and then Heidi’s heart rate dropped again. This just kept happening and I will never forget. There was a younger nurse. The doctor wasn’t there. It was 2:00 AM and she came walking in the room. She said, “Hey, so the doctor just told us that we need to prep you for a C-section.” I’m just like, “What? A C-section? Excuse me? No one told me this was a possibility.” I had never even researched what that was. I never even knew that was a possibility. 

    Meagan: A lot of us don’t. 

    Rachel: I mean, I’m stupid for not realizing that is a possibility, but at the same time, you’re not planning on it. It’s just an unplanned surgery. 

    Meagan: Yeah. We go in thinking we’re just going to have this baby which we do have a baby but we just don’t envision it that way. 

    Rachel: I know. I just truly wanted what was best for my baby. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. 

    Rachel: If it meant a C-section to save her life, then obviously that’s what I would do but I was realizing this cascade of interventions was leading from one thing to another thing to another thing and I just was so upset. The OB got there and finally, my husband was like, “Whoa. Okay. What is going on here?” He talked to her and he was like, “Let’s just take her off of everything and see how her heart rate is.” We literally asked her. We were like, “Listen, if you think our baby is going to lose oxygen or something dangerous where it’s going to save her life to do a C-section, we will do a C-section, but if she is okay and we can work through–” the nurses were changing my position and the heart rate would get better. 

    Sometimes I think the cord can just get compressed or things like that. She literally looked at us. I was really upset. I don’t even know what I said. I was just really upset. But she looked at us and she was like, “Okay, yeah. The heart rate looks great. You’re doing great. I’m okay with that. Let’s just give it a little bit longer.” It was probably another 12 hours that we had done that. Long story short, the same thing happened again and after she gave me time, and at that point, I think I had progressed to 6 centimeters. I was like, “Okay, we’re going to have this baby. This is looking good.” Even the nurse said that it was looking good. 

    I think the final thing that happened is that I started running a fever and then when I ran a fever, the heart rate shot up and it was super high. Yeah, she was tachycardic. I’m like, “Yeah, she is not looking good.” At this point, it’s been 72 hours. I mean, I have so many fluids. I’ve been on an IV. So we were like, “Okay, we really need to do this.” I was kind of expecting it at that point even though I was super upset and super sad. 

    I was just kind of waving my little white flag. We did what we could and they prepped me for a C-section. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced because everything went really well with the C-section. The OB was great with the C-section. All of the team was really fast. I kept saying, “I can still feel some pressure. Give me some more medicine. More, more, more.” I was so numb that my intercostal muscles were numb all the way up into my chest so it was kind of hard to breathe. I knew it was just because my muscles were numb so I was okay with it. 

    It was so crazy because I was so happy. I heard my daughter cry so I knew she was healthy. I knew she was there. It was the best moment ever but at the same time, you’re sad. Everybody that has talked on this podcast, you know the feeling of where you’re so happy. Your baby is here. You’re healthy. There could be way worse other things, but at the same time, it’s just that this was not what I was expecting. It’s crazy. 

    Anyway, she had to go to the NICU because there was fluid in her lungs so she had to have help with oxygen and then she had to get IV antibiotics because there was suspected chorioamnionitis. 

    Meagan: Because of the fever? 

    Rachel: Yeah, because of the fever. So it wasn’t proven, but they go ahead and put the baby on antibiotics before the results get back from pathology because it takes a while so they want to go ahead and get them on antibiotics just in case. It came back and it wasn’t chorio so she had unnecessary antibiotics. But I get it. You have to have certain protocols in place. So she had to have that. 

    She was in the NICU for just a couple of days. It wasn’t bad. I was able to breastfeed. It was a struggle. You have to really make sure you’re on a strict schedule when your baby is in the NICU. You have to go feed them and pump especially when your milk is coming in. So that was hard but we were able to do the breastfeeding which is good. 

    Oh, Heidi had a lot of donor milk in the NICU because it was good that they gave her donor milk. I always joke around. I’m like, “She’s going to have the best immune system because of all of the donor milk that she got.” Side note, whoever donates breastmilk, you guys are amazing. I just cannot believe that is a thing, so thank you to whoever donated breastmilk.

    Fast forward to the follow-up, everything is looking good after the C-section. Heidi is doing great. I’m so happy. I wanted to share this. I don’t know if a lot of people have ever experienced this but I talked to my provider. I mean, I really liked her other than she suggested the induction. I just really wasn’t that on board but she was like, “Yeah. In the future, you will definitely be a candidate for a VBAC.” 

    But then I got this letter in the mail. I’m just going to read it. It says, 

    “Dear Rachel, 

    The patient/physician relationship is important in providing quality care. I feel your unacceptable behavior toward me and the hospital staff as well as your unwillingness to follow my recommendations for your safety and the safety of your baby has jeopardized our relationship. Therefore, this letter serves to notify you that I will not continue to be your provider.”

    Meagan: What?

    Rachel: I was so, so sad because I thought I followed her recommendation. She thinks I put my baby at jeopardy. If she thought my baby was at jeopardy, she should have told me that I should have had the C-section earlier. I just was so sad. I, as a physician, I’m not a physician but I’m a dentist and all of my patients, I try to give them both sides to everything. Not everybody is as informed as I am about teeth. Duh, we all don’t know. That’s why you go to a doctor for advice. 

    Meagan: That’s why you go to a specialist. 

    Rachel: I try to give everybody two sides. I try to inform them and then they make the decision. I don’t ever want to force someone into doing something that they don’t want to do but also if someone doesn’t take my recommendation, I’m not going to say, “Okay, you’re dismissed from my practice.” I get that some people just don’t feel comfortable treating certain people which is fine. I’m not bitter about that but I was super floored that she would dismiss me as a patient because I didn’t take her recommendation to get a C-section in the first place. 

    Meagan: You did and then you had a conversation and she said, “Yeah, I’m totally fine with it. Let’s keep going.”

    Rachel: I had a doula with me, Ashley Andrews, she is amazing. She is my prayer warrior doula. She even said, “I don’t think you’re out of line, Rachel. I’m really confused.” 

    Meagan: I’m sorry. 

    Rachel: Anyways, not to harp on that but it was really sad. It was really for the best because I started looking at other providers anyway because I knew I wanted another baby. Okay, so here’s the good part of the story. Dun, dun, dun. 

    Nine months later, we found out we were having another baby. This time, it was a boy so I found a different provider in Pensacola that was okay with VBAC. It’s really hard surprisingly to find someone that is super on board. It really is up to you to do the research and all of that. We have doctors. People think doctors are there to give you a magic pill and everything is solved. Doctors can’t do anything if you don’t make an effort on your end too. I feel like that’s why there is so much diabetes and all of these things because you have to do some kind of work on your end too to educate yourself and realize that you can’t just go to a doctor and expect them to fix all of your problems. 

    I realized that and I’m like, “Okay, that’s in every situation. I have to become educated myself.” I found you guys. I listened to your VBAC podcast literally every single day at lunch and I would cry on my lunch break. I’m such a loser. 

    Meagan: You are not. These stories are amazing. 

    Rachel: I would listen to these stories and I would just cry. I’m like, “Wow. This is so awesome.” My husband, I love him. He’s so sweet. He’s like, “You guys should make a podcast for husbands on how to deal with their wives when they have decided that they are going to have a VBAC,” because he’s like, “All right, I’ve already accepted all of this stuff. It’s fine.” 

    Anyways, at 20 weeks I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa, not just partial. The placenta is completely covering your cervix. My OB here in Pensacola, the new one, was like, “It’s highly unlikely that this is going to move. It’s complete. It’s very rare.” He started talking about placenta accreta and how sometimes it can even grow into the C-section scar and grow out into your bladder and stuff. I’m like, “Whoa.” 

    I was so sad. I’m like, “Y’all, okay. I guess I’ll just have another C-section. This is fine.” But then I was like, “Okay. God, you said in the Bible.” Matthew 17:20 says, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible.” I’m like, “God if you can move mountains, I know that you can move this placenta. I know that nothing is impossible for you.” I just started praying. In the meantime, my sister who lives in Jacksonville had this great practice that helped her with her delivery. Full Circle Women’s Care, I highly recommend. I also talked to a friend, Saundra Fetner, who had a VBAC with them. I talked to her about it and she was like, “Yes. You need to go there.” 

    I had a Zoom conference or a telemedicine conference with Dr. Adams. She is the owner there, the OB there. She was like, “Okay, yeah. We even have some missionaries that will be in Africa and then fly here and deliver their baby here and go back.” She was like, “If you want to deliver here, that would be fine with me. You just see your provider in Pensacola and then when it gets time, you just make arrangements to stay in Jacksonville until you have the baby.” 

    Meagan: Dual care. 

    Rachel: Yeah, exactly. I was like, “If something crazy happens in Pensacola, then I have the provider here.” I talked to my provider here and he was completely okay with it. He was like, “Well, with the placenta previa, you might want to try to rent a private jet so you can get there really quick.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s not going to happen but whatever.” He was okay with it. I didn’t care. Dr. Adams by the way, just has such passion for what she does. If you don’t have passion for what you do and you don’t enjoy it, why are you doing it? She actually had a C-section with her first baby and she’s an OB. 

    So she’s like, “I understand how medicine is there if you need it, but sometimes you need to let your body do what it was created to do.” I was like, “Oh my gosh, yes girl. Preach, preach. I’m going to come see you. I don’t care that I have to drive six hours. I’m going to come here.” I scheduled a follow-up. Granted, it had only been two weeks since I had been diagnosed with placenta previa. 

    Coming to the follow-up, I had another ultrasound and all of that at Full Circle Women’s Care. My first appointment, my sister went with me and we were like, “Let’s just not say anything. Let’s not say that I had placenta previa. Let’s just see what they say.” The ultrasound tech looked at everything and she was like, “Yeah, everything looks great. Your baby’s healthy. We just might need to get one more little position of the head when you come back.” I’m like, “What?” So then I’m like, “Okay, well you don’t see placenta previa or anything going on?” She’s like, “No. The placenta is way over here. This is the placenta here. This is your cervix here. There’s no placenta previa.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” My mom had been praying. My dad, my mother-in-law, Angie. 

    I’m like, “Y’all, you will not guess what just happened.” I sound so crazy but I’m like, “God moved my placenta.” I even had Ashley, my doula, had her Sunday School group. She was like, “Girl, we’ve been praying for you.” I know that’s not the story with everybody, but it’s just so crazy. I really do believe that and I’m just so thankful. I had my appointment with Carol, one of the midwives and she’s like, “Yeah, everything looks great. You’re due around September. We’re going to do everything we can to help you have a successful VBAC.” I’m like, “Okay, Carol. You promise I don’t have placenta previa?” She’s like, “What are you talking about sweetie? Your placenta is far away from the cervix.” I couldn’t believe that it was the case. 

    I had this regained energy and excitement. We were back on track. Let’s do it. Then a couple of weeks later, I met with Dr. Adams and it’s a group so you meet with different people because you don’t know who’s going to deliver you. Everyone I saw, I’m like, “If you deliver me, I don’t care. Everyone is great. Fantastic.” I met with Dr. Adams and she’s like, “You know, there’s this thing that you can read.” It is a recommendation for TOLAC or how to have a successful VBAC and how to ripen your cervix. She had all of the guidelines there. She was like, “Have you been following the guidelines? Have you been doing your daily squats to open up your pelvis and doing the specific Spinning Babies exercises to get the baby in the right position?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve been doing my squats.” 

    She’s like, “Let me see you do 20 squats right now.” This is at my OB appointment. I’m like, “Okay.” She’s holding my hands and doing squats with me at the appointment talking to me about what I need to do. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh, I love that. 

    Rachel: I’m just like, “This is awesome.” Anyway, she really practices what she preaches. She’s like, “All right, then let me see you do some squats.” So I did that. Also, going back so for Valentine’s Day of last year, instead of giving me chocolates and stuff, my husband printed off the recommendations that they gave me. I’m like, “You don’t care about this as much as I do. I wish you could just know what I’m going through.” He’s like, “Okay, Rachel.” He printed off the guidelines of how to have a successful VBAC and he highlighted all of the things. 

    This is on the OB’s website, How to Have Your Cervix Ripened Before Birth. These were the things you needed to do. At 20 weeks, drink red raspberry leaf tea. At 36 weeks, do acupressure, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. At 37 weeks, start taking evening primrose oil. At 38 weeks, start using clary sage oil and do birth stimulation, sex, and all of that stuff. At 39 weeks, you can do membrane stripping. He’s just so funny because he even bought all of these things. He’s like, “Are you drinking red raspberry leaf tea? Is it 36 weeks yet because that’s when you need to start going to a chiropractor.” 

    That was awesome. I was just doing everything. I wasn’t perfect. I tried to eat healthier and all of that stuff. You do what you can but I work full time. At the end of the day, we’re not perfect but I tried to do all of those things. I did that. I found a doula in Jacksonville and she helped me through Hypnobabies. It is super interesting because your mind really can help you control pain. It’s so crazy. It really can. I even want to look into this for my patients. I think it would be so cool if you could learn to hypnotize. Dentistry is scary, especially for kids so I’m always looking for new things to try. 

    Okay, so we go to Jacksonville. I was due September 29th. I took a week off early from work. We closed the dental clinic down. I had a dentist that’s working for me too, Dr. Bonnin and he’s awesome. Thank you for working for me on maternity leave. I closed for a week. We just went to Jacksonville. We had a little mini vacay. We took Heidi. I feel like it was so much just to spend time with me and Edwin with my daughter for a straight week in a really long time and focus just on our family. We have had a lot going on up until then so it was a nice little breather away. 

    Meagan: That’s such a beautiful way to spend the end of pregnancy. 

    Rachel: I know. 

    Meagan: Sometimes in the end of pregnancy, we’re so stressed. We’re getting a lot of pressure from the outside world or from whoever. Why haven’t you had your baby yet or why haven’t you been induced? So it’s nice to just be with your family and create this space going into it. 

    Rachel: Yeah, it really was. It was such a blessing that we were able to do that. I didn’t have to worry about, “Okay, let me do the last-minute touches on the nursery.” It was just relaxing. So I’m like, “Okay, for sure this baby is going to come soon.” I’m super relaxed. I saw a shooting star. I’m like, “All right. It’s going to happen.” It didn’t. A week passed so I’m already a week later and then I think I was 41 and a few days. 

    I had the BPP again and they start doing the monitor thing. They just do the heart rate monitor. 

    Meagan: Oh, a non-stress test? 

    Rachel: A non-stress test just to make sure everything is good. They kept saying, “Everything is good but we are going to keep seeing you back.” They weren’t letting me go very long. 

    Meagan: It’s very standard doing NSTs at 41 weeks, very standard. 

    Rachel: Yeah, okay. They were just doing all of the things to make sure everything was good. But Dr. Adams was like, “I know you want to go into spontaneous labor on your own. If you’re not by 42 weeks,” and she was one to wait up until 42 weeks to do an induction. She’s like, “We’ll do a super gentle induction. We’ll start with breast stimulation. We won’t even go to Pitocin or anything.” I didn’t even want to hear the word induction so I’m like, “Okay.” But she was great because she allowed me all the way up until two weeks to schedule the induction whereas for some people, it just depends on the hospital scheduling and that’s where modern medicine is sad because you have to do the schedule and your body’s not on a schedule. 

    Your due date is just a guess date. I mean, Jane, the doula in Jacksonville is like, “So what’s your guess date?” because it is. We try to do what we can but at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to let nature take its course. 

    Anyway, so I talked to Dr. Adams and everything was good. I was trying to go into labor on my own. My best friend from dental school, Jackie, actually had premature contractions at 32 weeks so her doctor was telling her all of the things she needs to do to not go into labor and I was trying to do all of the things that they told her the opposite. I’m like, “Okay, what did your doctor say? Okay, I need to do that.” It just goes to show you that getting babies on this earth is just hard no matter what way you look at it but if you’re educated, it’s a lot easier. 

    Hurricane Ian was brewing up and we had to move from our hotel because our hotel was on the beach and they were like, “We are going to have to evacuate the hotel because a hurricane is coming.” I’m like, “Oh, this baby is for sure coming. It’s a hurricane.” It didn’t. The hurricane came and went. I even drank midwives’ brew and all of that stuff. 

    I was 41 and 5 days or something like that. Our daughter, Heidi, got really sick. She contracted something while we were there. She was throwing up. She couldn’t keep anything down. My husband was getting a little bit antsy. My husband was like, “I have a lot of stuff I need to work on at home. Why don’t you just stay here with your sister? I’ll take Heidi home and I’ll come back when you go into labor.” I was like, “Okay, sounds good.” He took Heidi home. She actually couldn’t keep anything down when he got home. Home was in Pensacola so it was six hours away from Jacksonville.

    He drove home and she actually had to be admitted to the ER because she had to get an IV and all of that stuff. I’m just like, “Oh my gosh. My daughter is in the hospital.” I feel guilty because I’ve been focusing on myself and making sure I don’t have a C-section meanwhile my daughter is at home in the ER. I was thinking about, “I’m just going to go home. I’ll just be induced again.” You just want what’s best for your babies. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we try to avoid C-sections when we can but have them when it’s going to save our babies’ lives. We just want what’s best for our babies so I just felt so guilty that I wasn’t there with her. 

    But anyway, she was fine. I finally went to Dr. Adams again. It was the first time I had a check. She said, “Okay, you’re 2-3 centimeters dilated.” I’m like, “Why am I not in labor right now?” I was 2 centimeters dilated at the hospital a couple of hours in. So anyways, she’s like, “You are super favorable. You are 2 centimeters dilated. You’re at whatever plus station where your baby is really low.” She’s like, “I’m surprised you’re not in labor right now. All you’re waiting on is for this baby to say, ‘Okay, it’s time for me to come into the world.’” 

    I mean, we just don’t know. That’s why medicine still has some mysteries to it. You just don’t know what puts someone into labor. Anyways, she did a membrane strip which was great. Membrane stripping, is that what it’s called? Membrane sweep. 

    Meagan: Yeah, a stripping or a sweep. 

    Rachel: She’s like, “Okay.” We had the induction scheduled for that Thursday and it was a Monday. She’s like, “Rachel, you’re going to have this baby. You’re not going to have to be induced. We have it scheduled just in case but you are going to go into labor on your own.” I’m like, “I really hope you’re right.” I went home. My sister and I went to a coffee shop and we just relaxed for a little bit and then we went home. We were going to see a movie. My brother lives in Jacksonville too. Me, my sister and my brother were going to see a movie together. He happened to be off work. It was crazy. 

    We’re getting ready and then I start having some Braxton Hicks stuff but some contractions. Anyways, it really progressed and it started getting uncomfortable. I didn’t know. I thought, “Okay.” We contacted our doula. We met her at the hospital. She was like, “Do y’all really think y’all should go to the hospital?” I was having trouble breathing through everything. I was like, “I don’t know. It might just be Braxton Hicks.” 

    We got to the hospital. I couldn’t breathe through it very well so then Jane, our doula, was like, “Okay. Let’s just go to the hospital and get checked.” I’m getting scared. “No, they’re going to trap me. They’re going to make me stay and I’m going to have to get a C-section again.” She’s like, “Rachel, no. That’s not true.” I’ve got my birth posse with me. We go in. They checked me and I was only at a 4. I’m like, “What the heck? I’m such a woosie. I’m only at a 4?” 

    I’m like, “Let’s just go back home.” Carol was there, the midwife that I really had a good connection with and she’s like, “Rachel, I really don’t recommend you going home. I really think that things are progressing quickly. You should stay here and just relax.” Then I talked to my husband too. 

    Meagan: Make your drive. 

    Rachel: As soon as I got admitted to the hospital, Heidi actually got dismissed so he’s like, “We’ve got two babies heading out.” I’m like, “You’re such a nerd.” He’s like, “Rachel, stay at the hospital. You’re being crazy. Just relax. Do your Hypnobabies thing and I’ll be there.” I did that and it was crazy. As soon as I zoned everybody out and put my little headphones on– 

    Meagan: And acclimated to the space.

    Rachel: Yeah, exactly. I had time to get acclimated. I was like, “Okay. This is going to be okay. This baby is coming.” I just relaxed and then things started getting a little cray cray during transition. Yeah. Now I know what people talk about with that. Also, I didn’t have an epidural because I’m like, “No. They slow things down. I do not want to get an epidural.” Yeah. So that was great and then the transition thing. 

    Okay, things started getting really serious. My sister was there with me because my husband couldn’t be there. I had my sister and a doula. I was like, “Sarah, why did you talk me into this? This is so stupid. I can’t believe I’m doing this. This is the dumbest thing ever.” Then Jane was like, “Okay, I think she’s ready.” 

    Meagan: Usually when there is intense talk and doubt kicks in, it’s like, “I think it’s happening right now.” 

    Rachel: Exactly. So then Carol came in. She checked me. I was 9.5. I had a little cervical lip and I was like, “Oh my gosh. No. I cannot believe it.” I was just like, “How in the world?” Carol was like, “Okay, I think your husband is almost here so we can wait to pull the cervical lip out of the way.” I’m like, “No. We are not doing that!” I’m not waiting. He should have been here a little bit ago.

    Anyway, so we did that. I’m about to start pushing. My brother was there at the hospital. He met my husband out in the hospital parking lot and they were literally sprinting. They were like, “Okay, your baby is about to be born. Here you are.” Luke led him to the exact room. Edwin comes in. He has a backward baseball cap on. I’m like, “They’re going to think you’re a crazy person coming in here.” They’re like, “Is this the baby daddy? Okay, come in here.” 

    I was pushing and I’m like, “Oh my gosh. The baby is going to get stuck,” because I’ve heard stories that the baby is going to get stuck at 10 centimeters. Carol was so amazing. By the way, she has a British accent. She’s from Africa and she’s the coolest person ever. She’s like, “Rachel, you are doing it. You’re about to have this baby.” I’m like, “No way. Are you serious?” 

    At that moment, she’s like, “Rachel, you’re having this baby. This is happening. It’s too late to turn back. He’s not getting stuck.” I’m crying. I’m like, “This is the best feeling ever.” He was born. He’s healthy. He’s here. I’m healthy and this is how things are supposed to happen. It was the most amazing thing ever. You just can’t explain it. I’m just like, “Oh my gosh.” I just can’t believe that it actually happened and everything was great. 

    The births were such polar opposites. No one's birth is less important than the other. I don’t ever want my daughter to think, “Oh my gosh. I was a failure birth, and then baby John–”. His name is John Edwin Richard the Third and then John was a regular birth. It’s not about that. It’s just how God can take our pain and our failures that we have and turn beauty from ashes. That is what happened. This is how it’s supposed to be. It was the best feeling in the whole world. I was just so thankful. I can’t believe my husband made it there. I didn’t think he was but he did. 

    Meagan: So close. 

    Rachel: Yeah. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I do want to say that I’m not trying to diss C-sections. You need it when you can but who you have as a provider is the most important thing. I trusted them and I knew that if she had recommended that I needed a C-section I was going to say, “Okay. I know that I’ve tried everything I can. I’m going to trust you guys.” 

    She even said, “The position of the baby is the most important thing.” Baby has to be in the right position to do that. So anyway, it was just the most beautiful thing ever. I’m just so thankful for everything. 

    Meagan: Oh my goodness. It’s such a beautiful story honestly from all of it, from the dove in the yard flying away to moving and driving six hours away. Those are hard decisions sometimes to make and sometimes dual care is really hard too because sometimes you will have providers disagreeing with the other provider so that’s really hard. But so beautiful. I could see the emotion and I could hear the emotion in your face. You’re so happy. It sounds just so beautiful. 

    Rachel: I know. It’s amazing. It’s the best. 

    Meagan: Well, thank you. I do want to talk about that placenta previa because it’s interesting to go from being diagnosed with complete previa to so far away. That’s a miracle. It’s so crazy but a lot of the time, we hear diagnoses of full placenta previa so I wanted to talk about what that is. You mentioned accreta too but previa is where it covers the cervix. To diagnose complete previa, it should be directly over the innermost side, so the OS. Directly over the canal of the uterus which is the cervix. So with pregnancies 16 weeks or more when this is happening, sometimes they’re diagnosed with a low-lying. 

    Low lying is when it’s really, really close or the edge is less than 20 millimeters away from the OS, the cervix. 20 millimeters is 1 inch or 2 centimeters. Usually, most providers when it’s 20 or more are totally okay and comfortable with that. One of the interesting things, and I’m curious how you had yours, but a transvaginal ultrasound to diagnose the placenta previa has a way higher chance of it actually being accurate than an abdominal. Did you have an abdominal?

    Rachel: It was transvaginal, yes. 

    Meagan: It was. 

    Rachel: Yes. On both, yeah. 

    Meagan: See? Look at that. That’s so amazing. If someone is diagnosing you with previa on the abdominal outside, you can also request a transvaginal because that can bring higher accuracy. If we get diagnosed and there are placenta issues within the pregnancy, then sometimes they will suggest a 34-36 week induction so that’s another thing and then if there aren’t any complications, sometimes it’s 36-37. 

    So just for those who have been diagnosed. I also want to mention that a lot of the time when we have low lying or something like that, it does move throughout pregnancy. 

    Rachel: Yeah, and usually it does take a lot longer than that. I did so much research too. So yeah, just like what you were saying, and if it does migrate upwards, it never will migrate back down because your uterus is growing up, not down. It all is about where the placenta attaches to the uterus. It’s this tissue and you can’t help it. It’s when the baby is conceived, that it attaches. I had a D&C and a C-section which can increase the risk of it. 

    I had a friend that was diagnosed with it and she even had some bleeding. She almost had to have a C-section but it had migrated more than what did you say it was? 

    Meagan: 20 millimeters, 1 inch, or 2 centimeters. 

    Rachel: Yeah, she said it was 3 centimeters so her provider was letting her go. I’m not saying that everybody’s just miraculously moves all of the time but the chances are pretty good that it’s going to move. If your provider says that you need a C-section, just maybe give it some time. Everybody is different. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Well, yeah. I think it’s just something that a lot of the time we don’t talk about, placenta previa. It can be really scary when you hear at 20 weeks, “Hey, you’ve got this possible placenta previa or low lying and you might have to have a C-section,” so at 20 weeks we’re hearing, “I might have to have a C-section,” and it immediately starts making our wheels turn. 

    Rachel: It does. It’s crazy. 

    Meagan: And then last of all, I really want to talk about teeth. 

    Rachel: Yeah, teeth. 

    Meagan: Our pearly whites. So obviously, you’re a pediatric dentist and one of the interesting things that you have found that we didn’t realize is that C-sections can affect enamel. 

    Rachel: Yes, it can. If you think about it, at about six months in utero is when the baby teeth are starting to develop. Anything that happens, if the mom gets a fever or you don’t have the certain Vitamins A, C, D, or E which are really important for your teeth to mineralize and you don’t have the certain minerals, then your teeth can be a little bit weaker when you are born. 

    All of these things in pregnancy affect the development of your teeth. Right at birth is when your adult molars, so you have four adult molars in the back and the front four on the top and the front four on the bottom. Right at birth is when those molars start to calcify. If you have, and I’m not saying that a C-section increases but it’s more of a correlation. It’s not a cause and effect. It’s a correlation. 

    Meagan: It’s a correlation, yeah. 

    Rachel: Yes. That’s observed if you have anything that happens right around the time of birth. With a C-section, sometimes the baby might be a little bit earlier. When you are born, you have things that happened at birth. The baby might be a little bit earlier. A C-section brings the baby earlier. Sometimes those things can affect the mineralization process of those six-year-old molars and the front four top teeth and the front four bottom teeth. It’s called molar incisor hypomineralization. If you have something like that, it’s just a really good idea to see a pediatric dentist. You can put sealants on it. Sealants can protect the adult molars from getting cavities and things like that to strengthen it. 

    Also, being on antibiotics right at birth–

    Meagan: That’s just what I was going to ask. What about antibiotics?

    Rachel: Yeah. I’m not getting into the nitty-gritty of everything, but certain antibiotics are worse than others. Usually, the C-section has a higher chance of having to be in the NICU and taking antibiotics. That can affect the mineralization process of your molars. That in turn can cause them to be weaker which puts them at higher risk for cavities. It’s just so crazy that even a C-section can affect your teeth which is my small little bubble of medicine that I do. Even that can have a role. 

    It’s not like if you have to have a C-section, you’re like, “Oh my gosh. My kid is going to have cavities forever.” It just puts you more at risk for that just like someone could be more at risk of being overweight but there are things that you can do through your diet and all of that to keep yourself healthy. It’s not an automatic thing. There are things you can do. Don’t drink juice and eat sugar. There are things you can do to keep cavities from forming. 

    But yeah, at around that time is when everything is forming. It’s so crazy. 

    Meagan: It’s just good to know.

    Rachel: It is. It is. 

    Meagan: Even if you’ve had a vaginal birth with a lot of antibiotics from Group B Strep or something like that, it’s good to just be aware. 

    Rachel: Yes. It’s not necessarily with a C-section, but with antibiotics and stuff. 

    Meagan: Awesome. 

    Rachel: Oh my gosh. Awesome. You guys are the best. I love you. 

    Meagan: We love you back and we are so honored that you wanted to share your story and touch the world around you.


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    55m | Apr 26, 2023
  • CAM #3 Blyss Young Answers Your Questions

    Blyss Young is a seasoned home birth midwife who has so much knowledge, experience, and a special heart for VBAC. Blyss hosts her own podcast, Birthing Instincts, alongside her cohost Dr. Stuart Fischbein where they normalize physiologic birth outside of the hospital.

    We asked our VBAC community what questions you have for a midwife who supports home births after Cesarean and Blyss has answers! 

    You will leave feeling inspired, educated, supported, and loved for whatever your birthing choices may be after listening to this beautiful discussion. We absolutely adore Blyss and know you will too!

    Additional Links

    Blyss’ Website

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, hello women of strength. It is Wednesday. Actually, it’s Monday the day of this episode and we are coming at you with another Cesarean Awareness Episode. I am so excited to be doing extra episodes this month. Today we have our friend Blyss Young. You guys, if you don’t follow her and her podcast with Dr. Stu, you need to do that right now. Push pause and go find them because they are amazing. They are a wealth of knowledge. They just make me smile. I feel like every time I’m done listening to an episode, my face hurts because I’ve just been smiling. 

    Really, though. I remember I fell in love with Blyss and Stu years and years ago. We’ve been so fortunate to have them on the podcast before and Blyss agreed today to be on the podcast blessing you again with her wealth of knowledge and answering some of your questions. We put out in The VBAC Link Community, “What questions do you have for a midwife?” and we got quite a few surrounding home birth. I know this might sound like a really heavy month of talking about home birth because Julie and I got a little salt at the beginning of April talking about a home birth but it’s just such an important topic that a lot of people don’t know is an option. 

    Review of the Week

    So we’re excited to dive into today’s episode with cute Blyss but of course, I have a review of the week that I would like to read. The title says, “Thank You” and it’s from cara05. It says, “I just wanted to drop a review and say thank you. Because of listening to some of your podcasts, I felt empowered to talk to my OBGYN about skipping the repeat Cesarean in the event that I go past my due date. This was something I had in my head that I really wanted. Opting for induction to still try for a VBAC was important. She was and just over all of this so supportive.” 

    Sorry, that was a little weird for me to read.

    “She was so supportive of the idea and totally on board which helped me get more excited about championing–” Blyss, I can’t read this morning. Sorry, Cara. “--this VBAC so thank you.” Oh, man. This is where Julie always would come in handy. She would really read reviews really well. So going on and having her VBAC. Congrats, Cara, for feeling empowered and that you were able to talk to your OBGYN. This is something that is so important whether you are a VBAC mom or not. We want to have a good relationship with our provider and we want to make sure that we can have those tough conversations. When they may be suggesting induction or a repeat Cesarean for going past your due date, but if something in your heart is telling you no or you are seeing the evidence and you’re like, “That doesn’t feel right,” have those conversations. I encourage you to have those conversations with your providers. 

    I mean, is there anything that you would say to that as well with being a provider in the world? I feel like as a provider in my head, I would want someone to tell me their thoughts and feelings. 

    Blyss: My relationship with my clients is very intimate. 

    Meagan: It is. 

    Blyss: Yeah. One of my teachers, Elizabeth Davis, who wrote Heart and Hand is a longtime midwife and teacher. She talks about the more we do prenatally, the less we have to do in labor. So I feel like that relationship that we have and hearing the internal landscape of the client is so important because when we are in labor, our body responds. Our hormones respond to feeling safe and having trust and being able to really relax. 

    That’s true for every one of my clients but especially with my VBAC clients because they have another level of trauma many times that they are having to go with. That could be their experience that happened in the hospital or maybe they were transported from a home birth and had a Cesarean. And then there’s that level of, “Does my body really work? Can I trust my instincts?” So the more that we can dialog about those things and start to really pull that apart and work with them prenatally, I feel like the better chances we have in having that successful experience. 

    Meagan: Yeah, absolutely. I will never forget it. I transferred to my midwife at 24 weeks with my third, my son, my VBAC baby. I just remember looking forward to those days when I got to go see my midwife because I would be feeling angst and hearing all of the static in the world. I remember just walking and she would always greet me with a hug and say, “How are you doing today? What do we need to talk about?” We talked. We dissected those fears and really talked about the things that were going through my mind at that time. I remember always leaving, going with a weight on my shoulders and leaving just feeling refreshed and more connected to her. 

    Blyss: Yeah. 

    Meagan: I think it’s important. I know that it’s hard in the system because we have providers that are restricted on time. They have so many patients. They’ve got bogged schedules. They’re tired so it’s a little harder for them to be more intimate, but I still encourage our listeners to have those conversations, to let them know where you’re at so like you said, you can work through it prenatally so that during the birth, those things aren’t coming up. We talk about that in our course. VBAC can be different and need more time prenatally. So yeah. If we don’t do those things ahead of time, it can definitely impact us during labor. 

    Blyss: Yeah. You know, expect that kind of care. You’re not getting that kind of care if you’re not feeling the way that you just described when you leave your provider’s office. Start to think about what it is that you really want. I know not everybody has the option to either financially or because of availability be able to work with a midwife necessarily, but plan to have somebody on your team that you do feel can support you that way whether it’s a doula or maybe doing some concurrent care with a midwife in your area where she can hold the space for you and give you those positive feelings that can help prepare you for your delivery.

    Meagan: Absolutely. Talking about that, I did dual care for just a little bit as I was debating a little bit and figuring out logistics. Just doing dual care made me feel so much better. I would go to one place and hear one thing and then go to the other and have to work through that. She did have the time and the resources to provide me with that comfort. I love it. 

    Q&A with Blyss Young

    Meagan: Okay, well like I said, we have some questions and I think they are really good questions from our listeners. We’ll just dive into those if you don’t mind and then feel free if we need to stagger away from them on any other topics or passions. This is one of the questions actually that was put in. We talked about this right before we jumped on. What is a CPM versus CNM or a licensed midwife? There are so many questions that people ask. There is a myth that CPMs are not qualified or able to handle VBAC and especially HBAC. I feel like this is the big myth. If you wouldn’t mind, could we debunk this a little bit? I don’t necessarily agree with that. 

    Blyss: Yeah. I think it all comes down to what you feel aligns best with your values. Just so you understand a little bit about how we’re trained. Certified professional midwives, our licensing body is different across the United States. This is one of the problems with our systems whereas we look at other European countries where midwives are integrated into the medical system, we don’t really have it together in that way here in the States. The licensure is different from state to state depending on the local jurisdiction. 

    CPMs’ certification is our national certification. I practice here in California so when I take my board exams, I’m licensed by the medical board. It’s the same licensing board that licenses OBs that gives me my exams. I take my exam and I take the CPM and the LM. That may not be the case across the country. We learn our bookwork and then we have an apprenticeship. We work side by side with midwives or doctors to learn our hands-on skills and then we take a board exam similar to many doctors and nurses and people like that who have this professional capacity. 

    A CNM is a certified nurse midwife. They are licensed by the nursing board and they become nurses first and then have their specialty added to it of midwifery. As professional midwives, all we train for is out-of-hospital birth. That is our specialty. We specialize in low-risk, normal, healthy pregnant moms and their babies. A mom who has had previous Cesarean labor and delivers exactly the same as any other mom. They have an increased consideration because they have this scar so the integrity of risk has been affected but other than that, everything is exactly in terms of their pregnancy and their labor and delivery. 

    We absolutely are champions for these moms being able to have and experience a vaginal delivery for the healing of all of that trauma that we talk about. And also because of your long-term health as a woman who is delivering maybe multiple babies in your lifetime, it’s actually much better for you to be able to have a vaginal delivery than to continue to go and have Cesareans. 

    The benefits for the baby of being able to pass through the biome and have those mechanics that help empty their lungs as they are delivered and all of those things that the baby benefits from having physiologic birth. We are champions for that for these moms and for these families because we know. 

    There are some things that we watch for in case there is a uterine rupture or dehiscence as we would say where the scar opens a little bit. There are things that will be a little bit different than a mom who has not had a previous surgery, but other than that, this mom is just a mom who is pregnant and wants to have her baby. So we’re absolutely skilled to be able to support that. 

    If you look at the statistics of success because a mom who has had a previous Cesarean is a TOLAC. She is desiring to have a trial of labor after a Cesarean. I lost my train of thought. 

    Meagan: You are just fine. You were just talking about uterine rupture. We have a small increased risk but we are just having a baby as well so at home we have to pay attention to uterine rupture and dehiscence and things like that. There are signs and then you were going to the statistics. 

    Blyss: Yeah, there are signs that we are skilled to be able to look for. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Statistically, uterine rupture happens at 0.4-1%. It’s pretty minimal but having someone who is trained in out-of-hospital birth is a little bit different but it doesn’t mean that anyone is less qualified to support someone giving birth after having a previous Cesarean or previous Cesarean. 

    Blyss: Oh, yeah. So what I was going to say and where I lost my train of thought was the statistics in terms of success so actually having that vaginal delivery is much higher out of the hospital with a midwife than it is in the hospital. That is something to consider as well. If that’s your desire, you want to put yourself in a situation where you’re going to have the best possible support to be able to have the vaginal birth that you are desiring. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. That’s what Julie and I spoke about at the beginning of April kicking this special episode series of home birth and the chances of success outside of the hospital. We talked about how I want to say it was 18% of people may transfer. Tell me if you know the stat. I think it was 18 or so percent. But within that 18% of transfers, it was usually exhaustion, needing an epidural, or maybe we’ve got some scar tissue or something that we can’t work through, it’s a failure to progress, and maybe we need something else if we can’t get a homeopathic way to work. I want to say that was what we found. Is that approximately what you would say?

    Blyss: That’s not my statistic. 

    Meagan: Well, yeah. Your statistic is low.

    Blyss: I would say for a mom attempting to have a vaginal delivery after a Cesarean is the same statistic as a mom who is attempting a first-time delivery. We treat them in the same way in a lot of ways because they haven’t had that pushing phase. They haven’t pushed a baby out. Their labor depending on how far they dilated in their previous labors is going to give us some information as well. 

    If a woman got all the way to 10 and was pushing her baby out and then they for whatever reason decided that a Cesarean was appropriate, her labor is going to be more like a multip, so someone who has labored except for that pushing phase. And someone who maybe didn’t ever get to have labor– you’re raising your hand. 

    Meagan: Yep. 

    Blyss: Or I think one of the questions that is coming up is that you only dilated to so far and you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to get past that point? Those moms are going to be treated more similarly to a mom who has never had labor before. We are going to support them in that way. 

    You have to really, I think this is what we don’t understand. A lot of the studies and statistics that are done when you’re looking things up or hearing about things are from a medical perspective. They’re from medical perspectives. The way that they treat– and I was a doula for many years before I owned a center. I was a doula for many years before I started doing a private home birth practice. I know what it looks like in the hospital to support a VBAC. I’ve been there with them. Your provider and their faith in you and the way that you are treated by the nursing staff and all of that has a huge impact on your ability to be able to labor and progress normally. 

    We are mammals so our bodies are going to respond the same way a cat or a dog or a cow who wants to go and be off by themselves and have privacy and not feel like they’re being watched. Your hormones respond to that. Labor moving straightforwardly in a normal way is affected by you feeling that way. That’s what I was saying when we were talking about the different licensure. It really depends on where you’re going to feel the most comfortable but you want to have a team that really believes in you and makes you feel, as we were talking about in the beginning, relaxed, comfortable, and empowered because those are the things that are going to affect your body progressing normally. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. Absolutely. As a doula, I’ve supported VBAC clients both in and out of the hospital but there are times where there is a lot of pressure and angst that is created. That is not helping our labor. Julie and I mentioned it in our episode. We have to think about it like we wouldn’t give birth in the same place where we conceived. We don’t conceive in front of a whole bunch of people with bright lights on a bed with things strapped to our bodies, right? 

    Blyss: Right. 

    Meagan: But then we do give birth this way. It’s just something to be mindful of for sure. 

    Blyss: I didn’t get a chance to say that my statistics for first-time moms are a little bit higher than for moms who have already had a vaginal delivery. That statistic is about 10%. As you pointed out, the majority of those are not emergent transports. Those are transports where we are ready for something a little bit different. Again, this is when even midwives have a different level of comfort in terms of how they care for you. 

    I don’t transfer someone to the hospital because I’m ready for them to go. I transfer people to the hospital unless there is a medical indication. If there’s a medical indication then obviously, I’m like, “Okay, we need to go,” but in terms of this exhaustion and wanting something different and maybe wanting to rest and get an epidural or get access to Pitocin to augment the labor, those kinds of things, for me, if everything is looking great medically, then this is the mom’s choice. This is not something that I’m going to make that decision for her. 

    I had a mom the other day. This didn’t happen to be a VBAC mom, but just in a normal labor. She had the pushing instinct. It went away. We labored with her for another nine hours because she had a lip and then she pushed her baby out. All of the doulas who were with us were talking about how if that happened in the hospital, that mom probably would have definitely been augmented, definitely not left alone, given a lot of pressure, a lot of vaginal exams, and then probably would have ended up having a Cesarean or a “failure to progress.” But what that mom needed was rest. She needed to eat. She needed to feel like she was ready for the next level of her labor. It was a very mental thing for her we believe. 

    That’s not something that is always given either at home or in the hospital. Sometimes, especially, I was just talking to a VBAC mom right before we got on the phone because she went in to see if she could get a consult with a backup doctor in her local area. I sent her to the most common doctors that are supportive of transport. This doctor said, “No doctor in their right mind would back up a mom attempting to have a vaginal delivery at home.” And this is the best we’ve got. 

    We got on the phone and we were talking about her feelings about all of that because she would really love to know if she’s going to have a repeat Cesarean, she would really like to know the person with who she’s having a Cesarean. 

    Meagan: Totally. That’s one of the reasons why I did it. 

    Blyss: Yeah. That’s a reasonable thing to desire but what she’s finding out is that she might not have that option and just being in that doctor’s office, she said that the nurse came in and said, “Can you take off your pants so we can do a pap smear?” She said, “I’m not coming in for a pap smear.” Just that was a perfect example of being treated like every other person and not being individualized. This woman was coming in for a consult. 

    But it solidified her desire, “This is why I’m not going into the hospital again. If I need it, then it’s a good option but it’s not something that I’m feeling like I want to choose.” It’s just solidifying her desire to have this out-of-hospital experience. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. I think for those who are doing dual care, it’s important to still learn the stats and the facts because they can sometimes inflate these numbers and these statistics then you are left thinking, “Wait, am I making the right choice?” My provider told me, “Good luck, no one is going to want you out there.” It was a little different than what she was told but very similar. No one was going to want me out there. It made me question, “Why? Am I that scary of a patient?” That’s just not a good feeling and it’s not how you should be feeling during pregnancy and especially not during birth. 

    I’m going to lead into one of the first questions that were actually written. Why is there so much backlash around HBAC? When we were talking about backlash, I think it really just means so much hate and distrust about HBAC. I mean, do you find that a lot of people are coming to you saying, “Everyone’s telling me not to do this,” or maybe they’re even scared? I feel like maybe by the time they come to you, they are confident in their decision, but do you ever have any clients come to you who are still unsure?

    Blyss: I think that people can be in care and still feel a little unsure. There is part of the process of just unraveling the experience that you had last time and being with somebody who consistently says, “Everything looks good. You’re doing great,” and just normalizing the experience of having a joyful pregnancy. The mom that I just talked to, she’s like, “There are risks in everything.” I think that’s true too. You can look at a statistic that says, “You have a 1% chance of having this happen,” and you can try and say, “I want to try and take that risk down to zero.” 

    Obviously, there is risk in everything. You can’t have no risk, but there are people who look at it and go, “I have a 99% chance of having success.” 

    Meagan: That’s what we say. Flip it and be like, “I have a 90.9 or 99% chance of full success.” It’s like, “Well, dang. That means I’m pretty high up there.” 

    Blyss: Yeah. That’s probably how you look at life in general. So if you’re wanting to flip the script for yourself not just about this particular instance but about how you look at life in general because you talk about how the birth of your child is just one day. You’re actually going to be raising this baby and they’re going to have all kinds of risks. Do you want to spend the rest of that time with this child being worried all of the time about what possibly could happen or do you want to enjoy what life has in store for you? 

    That’s a lifestyle thing, but you can have a transformative experience and you have this thing in your life that people are looking at. They are projecting onto you their own fear. You have the ability to ground yourself in your own belief about how you are wanting to take control of not just this delivery but your life in general. I think it can help you move into feeling more confident about your choices in general. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. I think you just nailed it right there. A lot of the time, the people that are feeding the backlash are people that have experienced an unfortunate circumstance or have experienced something personal. They are feeding it out there to the world because that’s where they’re at. 

    Blyss: Yeah, or not. Or they haven’t had any. 

    Meagan: Or they haven’t. Exactly, yeah. 

    Blyss: You know, I had a mom one time in my care who was attempting to have an HBAC. Her previous doctor was sending me the records. She was transferring out of care. She was like, “This is so dangerous. How are you going to know how the baby is doing? How are you going to know the signs?” She didn’t even know what we do at a home birth. She didn’t know that we monitor the baby, that we have all kinds of medications, and the ability to be able to manage things at home. I think a lot of times, there is just ignorance too. There is just not an understanding of the role that midwives play. We’re not doing a seance with our incense and our Birkenstocks and just hoping for the best. We actually have been trained to know what to look for. 

    Because we do normal all day every day, that’s our specialty. When something is not normal, it stands out. It’s like a bad nook. You’re like, “Huh. This is not normal.” If there’s something going on with the mom’s uterus during labor and delivery, there are going to be signs. There’s going to be pain in between the contractions near the site that’s unusual. There might be bleeding that’s unusual. The baby’s heart tone might be unusual. The patterns of her labor might be a little bit funky. There are a lot of things that will stand out to us as “This is not normal labor progressing. Something is going on.” 

    If you’re being conservative and it’s a question mark, “Huh. Does this mean that something is happening with the scar?” then you can conservatively transport to the hospital and be monitored continuously because we use intermittent monitoring. Maybe nothing. Maybe you’ll have a vaginal delivery at the hospital, but you have the ability to do that and not wait for something catastrophic to happen. You have plenty of time to get there and do the more conservative management of this labor just in case. 

    Meagan: Right. One of the questions was, what are the stats of transfer for an emergency? Again, everyone’s stats might be a little bit different, but what she is saying is that there are signs that indicate a change of plan before there is a crazy emergency.

    Blyss: Right. 

    Meagan: I do think that what you are saying is that she didn’t know what the care was. It circles back to the backlash. I think that a lot of people don’t.My mom said some really crazy things. Years later, it wasn’t until I really understood the mental process of my mom and everything. She was saying those things out of fear, the unknown, and uncertainty. She didn’t know what out-of-hospital birth looked like because she only knew what Cesarean birth looked like. It’s so important to learn those things and learn those signs but know like Blyss said, that it’s not usually even just one. Blyss, you would know way more than I do. But from my experience, there are usually a couple of symptoms. It’s not usually one. It’s like, “Okay, we’ve got this, this, and this” or “We’ve got this happening. Let’s transfer. Let’s take a plan of action.”

    Blyss: Yeah. You were talking about my cohost, Dr. Stuart Fischbein, and one of the things he says– he was a doctor in the hospital for many, many, many years and has now been providing out-of-the-hospital support for families for 12 years now. He has the benefit of both worlds. He talks about when we say that a uterus has a rupture, we imagine a tire bursting on the freeway where it’s all of a sudden a pop. But usually what it is, is what we call dehiscence. There’s a little opening in the uterus. Oftentimes, that can go without having any real incidence and the only way they would know that happened is if they went in and did another surgery. So a lot of times those things will heal on their own. 

    I think you were saying there’s a 6.2% out of the people that do have a dehiscence or a rupture that have something really catastrophic that can happen. The statistics are really on your side but you have to be the one who makes that decision to say, “I would really just rather have another Cesarean,” or “I really want to try,” because there is such a high statistic of having success.

    One of the things that I was saying to this mom earlier is what I notice and I would consider myself a specialist in VBAC. I really love caring for these women. One is because I feel like their options are limited especially in the area that I am in. There is actually a ban on VBACs in the local hospital where they would deny these women pain relief if they came in to try and have a vaginal delivery. The women in my area are driving 40 minutes to go to a hospital in another town to be able to have this support. I feel really honored to provide this option for people who desire that. It’s really important to me. 

    And, I was transported in my first delivery and had a forceps, an instrument delivery. I didn’t end up having a C-section. But when I had my vaginal delivery on my own at home after that, the triumph of reclaiming my body and knowing that my body wasn’t broken and that it was just a mismanagement of my labor that led to that. I know what it’s like for these women to be able to have that redemptive birth after the surgery. 

    What I notice with VBACs is that they’re totally straightforward and normal just like another mom giving birth which I talked about earlier or they come really fast. It’s like the uterus knows, “I can’t do this for very long. I need to be super effective.” I actually just had a woman who had a VBAC after two Cesareans with me and it was so fast that I didn’t make it. That’s how fast it was. I was so happy for her and her husband because he’s a paramedic and he caught the baby and it was absolutely amazing. I was on the phone and on my way there. 

    All the work that we did to prepare her for this and she just popped that baby out like she had done it her whole life. Or we might have a labor that meanders. The uterus is wise in that way too. It’s like, “I need to be really conservative with my energy.” So you might have these contractions that are really far apart. Just like I did in that birth when I was telling you that we gave her nine hours to try to have that lip back, nothing was wrong. We weren’t getting any signs that anything was wrong. If you’re a mom attempting to have a vaginal birth after a Cesarean and you have labor like that, you want somebody with you who is going to honor and respect that your body is progressing, it’s just going to take a little bit longer because the integrity of that scar, the uterus knows, “I just need to be smart about this.” 

    If you augment that labor or push that body past what it’s saying it can do, that’s when you can have a problem. 

    Meagan: Yeah. I love that you said that because I was one of those where my uterus tinkered around for a little bit. I had a 42-hour-long labor. I was like, “This is never going to happen,” but it did and I’m so grateful for that. I think that’s just what my uterus needed. It needed to take its time and then it was 6-10 hours to get baby out really quickly. It just took a long time to get there. 

    Blyss: You said you hadn’t had labor before, right? 

    Meagan: I labored like a first-time mama. I only went to a 3. My water broke before contractions really started so it had to kick in. There was a lot. 

    Blyss: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes first-time laborers can be that way. I tell my families to be prepared for three days. That’s normal. That’s normal labor for a first-time dilation and delivery. I don’t think that’s what you’re going to hear from a medical provider because they don’t know normal. They only know what they decide as being normal so most of those labors get augmented in some way. Either they’re induced or they give them Pitocin at some point or they just call it and say, “Your body’s not doing this so we’re just going to give you a Cesarean.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. That’s what happened with my second. They were like, “Oh, it’s just not going to happen.” It hadn’t been very long. So it does happen. Another question was going into failure to progress. If we didn’t want to transfer and if there was no need to transfer but maybe we’re getting tired and we’re trying to progress at home, obviously we know time is our best friend. Time, trust, and faith in our body, and sometimes it is going to sleep, getting some food, and maybe doing a fear clearing. I truly believe, I’ve seen it so much through my own doula work and my own personal self and through the podcast and everything, that clearing your mental fears during labor can change our pattern just like that. It’s crazy. 

    But for home birth midwives, are there things that they can do to help things progress? In the hospital, we talked about how you are more likely to be augmented with Pitocin or something like that. Maybe they’d break your water. But are there things that you can do out-of-hospital to avoid a transfer because it’s not really necessary at that point but to help progression if we’re starting to get tired and things like that?

    Blyss: Well, I think that when you do have that scar, you want to be mindful of pushing the body like I said. I’m not against augmenting a VBAC but it’s something to really give really good informed consent and talk through. I would probably lean more toward, “Let’s sleep. Let’s take the pressure off. Let’s figure it out.” If you’re in early labor, sometimes you can take a Benadryl and maybe even have half a glass of wine. Sometimes that can help you sleep. If you’re in full-blown labor, it’s a little bit harder to do. 

    But like you said, maybe having a conversation about, “Is there something that you’re afraid of? Are there people at birth that are nervous and that’s affecting you?” Sometimes you have too many people there too early. Your mind can be wanting to take care of those people like, “Gosh, this is taking forever. I feel bad that my midwife is here and that my mom is here.” Send people home. Keep one person there just in case, but clear it out. You can refresh the space. If you’ve been in labor at home for a long time, sometimes you just change the smells. Clean up a little bit. 

    Meagan: Go outside. 

    Blyss: Go outside. We send our mama outside barefoot in the grass in her backyard. Those things can be really healing. I send people on walks all of the time. I know it’s really hard. You don’t want to get your clothes on and go outside but this is going to be really good because it takes your mind off of it. Also, going back to that hormone flow, you want to increase oxytocin so do things that can do that. Maybe put on a funny movie and get distracted that way. Maybe you and your husband can go and get in the shower together. You can have a little bit of making out and a little bit of nipple stimulation. 

    If your bag is intact, I know this sounds totally crazy, but I’ve had people actually have sex and it’s very effective. Or if you have a toy or something. I just saw a post the other day talking about how masturbating during labor can bring on the sensation of being able to relax a little bit more. 

    Meagan: I’ve had a client do that. 

    Blyss: Yeah, totally. 

    Meagan: It totally worked. He did it for her but it totally worked. I was like, “I don’t know what you just did and I don’t need to know the details.” I was like, “Why don’t we all leave? Why don’t we grab some lunch? You guys do your thing.” We came back and it was business. Baby was coming. I mean, seriously, baby came three hours later. It can work, yeah. 

    Blyss: Totally, 100%. One of the other things you can do is have a dance party. Change up the music. You don’t need the spa music and Hypnobirthing or something the whole time. Put on some fun music and laugh. Shake your booty a little bit. All of these things can be really helpful. Doesn’t that sound much better than laying in a hospital bed being monitored and strapped? 

    Meagan: Or hooking up to a pump?

    Blyss: Yeah. So facilitating oxytocin is another one that can be really, really helpful. But you know, midwives have homeopathy. We have herbs. Our big gun is castor oil. Those things can be utilized. I think it’s just a matter of really talking it through. The first thing I would always recommend is respecting the body and respecting that there’s a reason why it’s having a challenge. If labor really can’t get going and you’re really tired, then the hospital might be the appropriate place because that again might be your body telling you, “This may not feel the right way for my uterus. There might be something else going on that the uterus is protecting itself from working too hard and causing that scar to maybe not keep its integrity.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. That’s a really good point. I want to talk about how you did transfer. You weren’t a VBAC. You have transferred. I want our listeners to know that if a transfer takes place, that’s okay. That is okay. You’re not failing because you left and changed your plan. There is no giving up because you decided that you wanted an epidural. There’s no failing in that. It doesn’t need to be negative is what I’m trying to say. A lot of the time, people writing in are a home birth turned Cesarean and feel totally deflated like they failed. That’s just not how it is. It’s not how it is. You are doing an amazing thing. You are birthing a baby. You are birthing a child out of your body. You are giving birth and you are becoming a mother to a human being. It doesn’t really matter how you do it or if the plan has to change but like Blyss said, sometimes we need to tune in and say, “What is our body saying right now?” Is our body saying that we need to do nothing? Is our body saying that we need to do something? 

    I think that is one thing that we need to remember. I think sometimes too that people think, “Oh, home birth midwives will do everything they can to avoid a transfer.” I really disagree with that. Yes, they are going to help you get the birth that you want. They are going to do everything they can and they are passionate, but I’m telling you right now listeners, or an OB that helps at home too. We know that those exist with Stu and I think there are some others. They’re not going to just do something for themselves. They’re not just going to keep you. “You can’t leave. Nope. You can’t leave because you’re going to change my statistic.” It’s just not going to be. 

    It’s important for you to remember that you are going to be safe. They are going to have these discussions with you and it’s okay for you to have those discussions if you’re feeling like you need to transfer. If your intuition is saying, “Something is not feeling right,” and not feeling like you are giving up, failing, or disappointing anybody because you’re not. You’re doing what’s best for you. 

    Blyss: Yeah. Again, going back to the work that you do prenatally is going to really help you in labor. The more that you can tune into your own body and know what’s important to you and what you need as a sovereign person, the more you’re going to be able to tune into that in labor. You don’t want to be handing over your power to a provider. You want to be the one who is in charge of what’s happening to yourself. They may give you information and consult with you about how things are going from their expertise, but ultimately, it’s about you being the one who’s saying, “This is really what I want and this is what my body is telling me.” You don’t want to just wait until you get into labor to do that. You want to practice that throughout your whole pregnancy. I think that is a really important piece. 

    And yep. Thank God we have medical advances. What I find with my clients is if we end up transferring, we’ve done all of these things. They’ve had great prenatal care. They’ve been able to talk and process all of these things. If they’re going to have a repeat Cesarean, what they would like to do differently this time that they learned from their last experience? So if they get to that point, they know that they did everything that they could to give themselves the best chances and they feel empowered throughout the process. I think that the most important thing is that you feel like you weren’t bullied or made to do something and that each step of the way, you are making a choice that feels right for you and your family. 

    As human beings, we deserve that for everything. We deserve to be able to make these choices for ourselves. 

    Meagan: Yeah, and I think with being able to make those choices and to feel that empowerment to be able to do that, even if the outcome isn’t what we planned on, we’re going to have an overall better view from that experience because we aren’t going to feel like birth happened to us. We’re more likely to feel like we were the active participant in our journey and the leader or the driver in the seat and have a better postpartum experience.

    Blyss: Yeah. And welcome to life, right? 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Blyss: Our lives don’t turn out exactly the way that we planned. We ultimately have to meet life on life’s terms and know that we are not in control of every single thing that happens. It’s how you respond and how you move forward through a challenge that really makes you who you are and gives you the life experience that you want to have because labor and birth and being a mom is the greatest lesson in not being in control of things. It’s an important one. It’s a really important one. The only thing that you can really have control over is going in and deciding, “I’m going to deliver on this day and have a repeat Cesarean.” That is within your control. But if you are really wanting to trust your body and to have a physiologic birth experience, you have to be willing to let go of that control and ride the waves and see where it takes you and meet each moment with the best that you’ve got at that time. 

    Meagan: Yes. Oh, I love that. I love that. Ride the waves. That is the perfect ending. I have one more question but I want to just end on that. Ride the waves. Ride the waves. Trust your body. So if I’m having an out-of-hospital birth, what should I be asking? Are there specific questions I should ask my midwife? Do I have qualifications? Are there certain things where you would say, “You’re probably not a good candidate for a VBAC at home?” Are there any final tips that you would give as people are researching this option and talking to people?

    Blyss: Yeah, I think it goes back to what we were saying in the beginning. How do you feel when you are in this person’s presence? That’s a big one. Telling your story to them, telling them how you feel and what you are desiring this time and then just really feeling into do you feel that this is somebody that you want to have by your side? Ask them about their experience with VBACs. Ask them what would be the situation in which they would require a transport or that they would want to transport? See if that aligns with how you are feeling about this decision and what you would want from a provider. Maybe ask their statistics how many VBACs they have done. What is their transfer rate? When did they transfer with those people? I think that’s all really important and how comfortable are they? Are you a mom who has had multiple Cesareans? How comfortable are they with those risks and do you feel aligned with what it is that they are sharing with you about their philosophies? 

    I think that is a big part. Again, your provider and how they feel and how they approach things whether it’s in the hospital with an OB or a certified nurse midwife or at home with a CPM, their feelings about it and their trust in this process is going to have a huge impact on your experience because they are going to bring those fears or concerns into the birth room or into your pregnancy and you don’t need that. You need someone who believes in you 100% and when you’re with them, you feel better than when you got there. That’s what you’re looking for. If you don’t have those options available in your area, find somebody who can provide that for you virtually or find a doula who can be there with you as a continuity of care that you do have that connection and trust and faith with. I feel like that is probably the most important part of the process. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. That’s what I was looking for. I had a lot of questions at my visits but ultimately, one of the biggest things I was looking for was how I felt in their presence, their confidence in me, my confidence in them, and yeah. I mean, I liked to know what would happen if I needed to transfer or what would they be looking at to make me transfer so I would know, “Okay, this is happening. She talked about transfer,” but overall, I needed to know that that person was in my corner because I had never been in anybody else’s corner if that makes sense. I was in my own corner with my first two babies and I didn’t want to feel that way again because it’s a very lonely corner. 

    Blyss: Yeah, yeah. The only contraindication would be a classical incision. Other than that, I think that it’s just about exploring what the risks are. Let’s say it’s a short interval or something like that. I think giving true informed consent to that family and making sure they understand the increased potential risk, if this is an option that they want, I would rather be able to support them in this option than send them to the hospital if that’s not necessary or having those people maybe do an unassisted birth because no one’s willing to support them. That’s me. Not all providers feel that way but I believe if this is something that you’ve researched, you understand the risks, and this is what you’re desiring, you deserve to have somebody there by your side. That’s what we’re there for. 

    Birth is meant to happen with nobody around just like a mammal. We’re designed to survive. Our babies are designed to survive. You don’t actually need anybody with you, but when you hire somebody to be there by your side, we are there to be able to help you decide when it is time to get support or be able to step in and offer that medical support if needed. So if someone never wants to deal with any kind of complication that may potentially arise in childbirth, you probably shouldn’t be a provider because that’s our job. We’re the ones who are supposed to step in calmly and help you make a decision that’s going to keep you and your baby healthy. 

    Like you were saying earlier, us keeping you home when you don’t want to stay home, none of us want to have a bad outcome. We don’t go to work thinking that we want to force somebody to stay home and have a bad outcome. We all want the same thing, a healthy mom and a healthy baby. For us, there’s that additional layer of transformation, elation, joy, rights of passage, and having the family have an experience of understanding that this is how we were meant to deliver our babies. 

    Meagan: I have feelings about the healthy mom, healthy baby. Just like you were saying, I add to it. Healthy mom, healthy baby, and a good experience. That’s going to look different for everyone. I hope that as you are listening to this episode, you know you have options. You have options. I know sometimes Blyss talked about financially or maybe even location-wise, you are feeling that those options are stripped or you are feeling restricted. I understand that and I know it sucks. But don’t ever hesitate to explore your options or maybe look for those virtual support meetings and things like that. Or maybe drive 40 minutes because deciding what is best for you is most important. 

    Here at The VBAC Link and Blyss, I’m going to speak for you, there’s no judgment in the way you birth. There’s no judgment. We just want you to have a good experience and know your options. 

    Blyss: Absolutely. Thank you for having me on. I love you and as I said, I love supporting families in general but I have a special place in my heart for VBAC moms and for the work that you are doing so thank you so much for inviting me to have this conversation. I am available for people to come out to Santa Barbara if they feel like they don’t have options which I know is not for everybody. I’m also happy to do consults with people over the phone if they just need somebody who can tell them that they can do this. 

    Meagan: Yes, I know it sounds crazy that I’m going to go to another state and have a baby, but you guys, people do it. Before COVID, I had a Russian clientele. People from Russia would come to the states here to Utah. Think about how far that is. It’s not super crazy. A lot of the time, people are like, “It’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of effort. It’s a lot of this.” You guys, this is one day in your life that will impact you forever. It really will. I will never forget my births. Money will come and go but your experience will stick with you. 

    Blyss: Forever. 

    Meagan: So if you can make it work, if you have a VBAC ban, or you are restricted or something like that, check out Blyss. Check out midwives in the next state over. Look at these options. Expand your ideas. Expand your ideas and know that you have options. 

    Blyss: Yeah. Take back your power. 

    Meagan: Take back your power. Take back your power and know that it’s okay. It’s okay to do something that seems weird. People are going to be like, “What are you doing?” but it’s okay to do that. 

    Blyss: And that’s how change happens. If we all do the same thing, no one is ever able to see that this is possible. You deserve that. You deserve to listen to your own heart and your own instincts and what your soul is telling you is right for you. That’s okay if it’s not right for everybody. 

    Meagan: Yes. Absolutely. Just like we were talking about earlier, there are going to be different outcomes and that’s okay if that wasn’t your outcome or if that wasn’t your choice. We have people who after learning about VBAC and the statistics, the risk is too much for them and that is okay. 

    That’s okay. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    58m | Apr 24, 2023
  • Episode 231 Janelle's Unmedicated Hospital VBAC + It's Okay to Say No!

    Janelle is such an inspiration. You can feel her beautiful spirit as she shares her birth stories with us today. 

    She talks about how it’s okay if your life circumstances don’t allow for the perfect birth setup. Janelle was able to adapt and make peace with where she needed to let go. She was able to achieve the unmedicated VBAC she desired in a hospital setting. She found ways to strongly advocate for herself which also worked with her kind personality.

    Janelle has such a heart for women as she shares relatable advice about how to create a special experience throughout all of the unknowns of pregnancy and birth. 

    Additional Links

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, women of strength. We have an amazing episode for you today but first I want to talk to you just a little bit about postpartum depression. Studies show that 1 in 7 new mamas will develop postpartum depression. It’s scary and a topic that doesn’t really get discussed about a lot. So before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to share a little bit about our podcast sponsor and partner, Happiest Baby. 

    As you guys know from listening to The VBAC Link, this podcast means so much to me. I love every single one of you. I know that’s hard to believe because I don’t personally know every single one of you, but it is true. I love this community so much and it means so much to me that Dr. Harvey Karp and his company Happiest Baby are such big supporters of VBAC and are supporting our mission. 

    One of their biggest products that people may know or have heard of is called the Snoo. The Snoo is an amazing baby bed that can truly help many mams out there during their postpartum journey, especially if you were like me and have a husband or partner that has to go right back to work and is left with these amazing, cute, snuggly babies but also exhausted. Whether you had a C-section or a vaginal birth, for those few days and let’s be honest, probably months, you’re just exhausted. 

    I was in pure survival mode. So many people refer to the Snoo as “the mama helper” whose there to help soothe your baby so you can just get a few more hours of sleep. They even have a rental program which I think is pretty awesome so you don’t actually have to buy the bassinet. 

    As I started to learn more about Dr. Karp and his mission, I just loved learning that he is so passionate about reducing postpartum depression in parents. They even got FDA approval which I believe is the only bassinet or baby bed that has been FDA-approved. It’s also been known for reducing SIDS in babies as well. 

    I asked our community for their reviews of Snoo and I was overwhelmed by the positive responses. I just wanted to say thank you to Dr. Karp for creating the Snoo and helping millions of mamas sleep for just a few more hours at night so we can continue bonding with our babies and having a better postpartum experience. Thank you, Happiest Baby. 

    Welcome to The VBAC Link, everybody. This is your host, Meagan, and we have our friend Janelle with us today. She is going to be sharing with you her VBAC story. She is from Minnesota and has so many amazing tips. Some of the highlights of her birth stories are post-dates. This is one that we talk about all of the time on the podcast, but baby being born after or by a certain day so 41 weeks, is that right, Janelle? 

    Janelle: Yep.

    Meagan: Someone told you that you had to have an induction and then you declined and then your baby came spontaneously within that time. So really, really cool stuff and then planning for an unmedicated hospital birth with little to no interventions– that’s also something that is very possible so if you are looking at how to do that, this is definitely a story you’re going to want to listen to. And then financially or physically or even relationship-wise, you don’t have to have the ideal birth to have a great birth. So I’m really excited to hear Janelle’s story about all of these little details. 

    Review of the Week

    I’m going to jump into a Review of the Week and tell you a little bit more about Janelle and then we will get into her story. Today’s reviewer is Bethany Sagaert. I am hoping I didn’t just butcher your last name, Bethany. I’m so sorry if I did. This was back in 2020 so just a couple of years ago. The subject is “Podcast Was Part of My VBA2C Journey.” It says, “I’m so thankful for this podcast. I listened to so many episodes in preparation for my VBA2C. Listening to other women share their stories gave me the courage to keep working and fighting for my upcoming birth. I just gave birth to my third boy and the birth was everything I could have asked for. I am so thankful for this podcast and blog and refer every expecting mom I know to it in hopes that it gives them the courage and confidence it gave me to give birth the way they want and deserve.”

    Thank you so much, Bethany for this wonderful review. Just a reminder for all of you listeners, we do have a blog. We have a wonderful website where you can go. You can find a whole bunch of stuff on our blog. We have our resource page. We have doulas if you are looking for a VBAC doula. We have a list of VBAC doulas all over the world. We also have a VBAC course. We now have a mini-course which is really exciting. So if you are wanting to keep upping your game and fill yourself with education, hop over to thevbaclink.com and find all that we have to offer.

    Janelle’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Ms. Janelle, thank you so much for being here. Janelle is a full-time stay-at-home mama of two girls and after an unexpected Cesarean in 2020, Janelle began the process of planning and preparing for her VBAC. She and her husband enjoy getting outside with their girls, cooking up good food, and playing board games together after all the kids are in bed. Janelle, welcome. Welcome to The VBAC Link and thank you again for being here. 

    Janelle: Yeah, I’m so glad to be sharing my story. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. We know it’s going to inspire just like all of the stories on here, so we’d love to turn the time over to you. 

    Janelle: Okay. Well, I’m Janelle. When I was planning for my VBAC, I would always be doing the dishes at night listening to The VBAC Link. It was always my goal to have the VBAC but then the second goal was to be able to share the story. So I’m really glad to be sharing. 

    Meagan: And here you are. So awesome. 

    Janelle: Yeah. Well, I’ve heard a lot of other moms say every VBAC starts with a Cesarean so I’ll start there. 

    Meagan: Exactly where it starts. You can’t have a VBAC without a Cesarean, right? 

    Janelle: Right. So with my first daughter’s birth, my water broke and I was really wanting an unmedicated, natural, vaginal delivery. The water broke and I got so excited. I thought, “It’s going to happen. Things are going.” This was a few days before 40 weeks so I thought I was going to have my first baby right on time. It was going to happen perfectly how I wanted. But then after the water broke, no contractions started. I hadn’t really educated myself and really prepared for the labor very well so I didn’t know to maybe stay at home for a little bit to try and get things going. 

    I ended up going to the hospital which led to many interventions. I got induced and nothing was really happening. I was dilating a little bit but it wasn’t “fast enough” and there was meconium present. There were a few things that I felt were stacked against me and in the end, we decided that it would be safest for me and the baby to get the C-section. If I could go back, I would do a lot of things differently, but that’s just how it was. 

    Meagan: Yeah, and it’s what you knew at the time. 

    Janelle: Exactly.

    Meagan: It’s what you knew then. That’s one of the things about birth is that we grow. We grow as we learn. Sometimes we have to learn “the hard way” in order to make changes for the future.

    Janelle: Right. I see a blessing in it really that I was able to go through the C-section and then have learned so much in the process of preparing for a VBAC. I never thought I’d say that, that I’m thankful for how the story was but now I am. 

    So anyways, I had the C-section and right away, I was pretty sad about it. I was bummed and I knew I wanted another baby. I was hoping to have another baby. I really wanted a VBAC. From the second I left the hospital. I thought, “The next time I come here, I’m not having another C-section.” 

    I put my mind to it and about a year and a half later I think it would have been– our girls are about two years apart– we got pregnant with our newest baby. I started all of the research. The educational research, the physical research. I tried to prepare emotionally and spiritually. I was just trying to do what I could to prepare. 

    Leading up to it, I had always heard, “You need a supportive provider. You need a supportive provider.” That’s the number one thing. But because of some family circumstances, we had some interesting financial goals. Our deductible had already been met because of some surgeries that happened that year, so it really was the best decision for me to be at the hospital. I know some people say, “It’ll only be $5000 (only $5000) to get a midwife at home,” but that was a lot to us. 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Janelle: That is not pocket change. 

    Meagan: We talk about how in the end, two, three, four, five years down the road are you going to be like, “Okay, that $5000? It probably was worth it.” But at the same time, you have to take into consideration where you are at that time. If it is going to cause stress and angst and hardship, it’s probably not worth it. Right? You have other alternatives. You can still make a great birth. 

    Janelle: Right. I was thinking, “This is the main recommendation that everyone has to have a good provider.” I thought, “I don’t really have that opportunity.” But I did have the opportunity to have a doula. I said, “This is my situation. I’m getting a doula that I like but I will be at the hospital.” I said, “I’m going to learn what I need to learn for my situation. I’m going to stop complaining about not being able to do it just how I want.” 

    That’s when I started the education of how to do this at the hospital because that’s where I was going to be. I had some pressures during the pregnancy to have different interventions that I wasn’t interested in. One of them, the one I should highlight, is the pressure to be induced at 40 weeks. 

    My baby was measuring a little bit on the bigger side. She came out at a little over 9 pounds so that was the reason that they were interested in inducing. Also because of the previous of Cesarean, they were telling me it was a better chance of things going well for us if I was closer to 40 weeks. But because of my views and what I had educated myself on and what I believed, I did not want to accept that intervention. 

    I told them I wanted to wait. 40 weeks came and went. I was really surprised that it came and went because I was trying to do all of the things but you know what they say. You cannot force the baby to come before they’re ready. We were walking. We were hiking every day. I felt the baby. There was so much pressure but nothing was happening. I would wake up every morning and think, “I’m going to end up with another C-section. The baby’s not coming. I’m not going to go spontaneously,” but I had some really good support around me. My husband knew how much the VBAC meant to me. 

    Our doula, her name is Kayla. Shoutout to Kayla, I know she’ll listen. She was so supportive and she just told me, “Hang in there. Take it day by day. You can always make a decision the next day or the day of.” What are they going to say if I come in and ask to be induced? They probably are going to be happy to have me. 

    So I just kept waiting and then 41 weeks came. I was getting Braxton Hicks for the whole pregnancy but so many. By this point, having feelings down there wasn’t really anything new. 

    Meagan: Yeah, not foreign. 

    Janelle: Right. I was just like, “Oh, they’re probably Braxton Hicks again.” I was playing that game where I wanted to be in joyful denial because I wanted to progress naturally. I was in this mindset of, “If anything is happening, I don’t want to think about it anyway.” We got up and we made breakfast. I was getting contractions at this point but I had never had natural contractions. I had only had contractions that were induced so I didn’t really know what was going on. 

    I made the breakfast then I had this urge to clean the front closet which should have been the sign.

    Meagan: That can definitely be a sign, a surge of energy. 

    Janelle: Yeah, so the front closet was cleaned. We listed a lot of stuff on the marketplace. Things were sold. After we put my toddler down for a nap, I had a chance to think about what was going on. I thought, “These are still going.” I hadn’t really paid attention to it. I heard this trick of if you get in the shower and they continue and get stronger, then it’s probably labor. But if they go away, then it’s probably not. 

    I had done this before. I had gotten in the shower and then I’d get out and they were gone. So I just thought, “I guess I’ll do the test again.” So I get into the shower and I feel one. I thought, “Ooh. That was interesting.” Then I get out and they would continue. I thought, “Maybe this is something,” but I wasn’t fully convinced. I got to my room and I downloaded the first contraction timer app that I could find. I timed a few. I thought, “Well that’s weird, two minutes apart. This can’t be it. They say that they’re supposed to be five minutes apart at first. What’s going on? They’re probably two-minute-apart Braxton Hicks contractions of course.”

    So I screenshotted it and I sent it to my doula. I asked her, “What do we think is going on?” She played it cool and said, “Are you having any other symptoms?” I said, “I just feel like I have to poop but nothing more than that.” She said, “Okay. I’m going to come over to your house.” The plan was to labor at home for as long as possible and then head over to the hospital very late in the game. 

    I asked my husband to bring our toddler to a friend’s house because I was starting to have to breathe through some things. I was in that mindset of where I wanted to focus. I was like, “She’s got to leave. I have to focus.” Our doula got there. My husband got back from dropping our toddler off. I just wanted to be in our bedroom away from everyone. I was laboring standing up. I was using that breathing technique of four seconds in, six seconds out. 

    And okay. I had just researched and researched VBAC that I had forgotten– I researched positions and how to deal with medical staff but I had forgotten that I should have some breathing techniques. So oddly enough, a few days before labor started, I was watching this YouTube vlog of someone in labor. That is what her technique was and thankfully it stuck with me and worked for me because it was all I had. That is just what I did. I guess it calmed me down and it worked. 

    Meagan: Mhmm, it’s really powerful. Our breath is so powerful. 

    Janelle: Yes. So four seconds in, six seconds out. That’s what I did the whole time. My doula said that anytime I was ready we could probably go to the hospital because she was watching. She knew that I was progressing and that it was getting close to active labor. That’s what it’s called, right? Active labor is when it picks up?

    Meagan: Active phase of labor, yep. 

    Janelle: Oh, transition is what I was meaning. She knew that I was getting close to transition. 

    Meagan: Oh, yep when you’re entering into transition, which is in the active phase of labor. 

    Janelle: I was getting shaky and ready but I said, “No, no. We don’t want to head in before it’s time. I want to have this VBAC.” So she pulled my husband aside. I heard that she told him, “If we don’t plan on having the baby at home, we’d better head in. We’ve got to get her in the car.” They told me, “No, we think it’s a good time.”

    I trusted them but was still a little in denial. Is this it? Should we go in? We drove to the hospital. It wasn’t that bad. We live pretty close. Thankfully, my wonderful doula and wonderful husband got us to skip triage which is something we had talked about before. It was a goal that we wanted to be able to skip past triage. It was a little bit rocky because I don’t think the hospital staff fully wanted that to happen but my doula pressed. She was like, “Her contractions are two minutes apart. Please just let us go. She wants to have a natural labor. She’s in labor, I promise.” 

    So we got back to the room and that was such a blessing to go right back to the room because I think it kept me calmer. Once we got there, I started having more shakes and adrenaline. I started feeling scared. I realized that I was the only one that was going to do this and I realized, “Okay, this is the real deal.” I finally realized, “This is happening today and this baby comes out of me. No one else is able to really help me here.” That was a little bit scary. 

    So during this time, it was pushed on us to get a check in order to 

    Meagan: A cervical exam?

    Janelle: Yep, in order to get admitted to the hospital. I pushed against that. I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t interested. But then I got to the point where I thought, “If I got a check, I think that might be something that is encouraging to me if I get that.” I told them that I was okay with it and I was a 9.5. I was like, “I really think it’s happening!” I was so thankful that things were progressing. 

    Meagan: That’s funny that you were contracting to the point where your cervix is at 9.5 but they’re questioning admitting you.

    Janelle: No, that’s what we were telling them. “No, this is real.” 

    Meagan: “This is it. I’m going to have a baby.”

    Janelle: Right. But I’m glad that I didn’t do the check too soon. We were there for a little bit before I said that that was okay. I think that kept me in that labor land. I turned inward and was focusing. Something that I used getting to the hospital was that I kept going with the breathing. I let my husband and doula really do all of the talking and I just shut my eyes. If people asked me questions, I was feeling really free to put my hand up and just continue what I was doing. 

    My doula told me, “You’re a very sweet person but it’s not the time that you have to be super polite. You don’t want to be rude. But this is the time. You are the woman in labor. It’s okay if you tell them, ‘One second please’ or just put your hand up because you’re busy. You’re doing something right now.” So I practiced that and being okay with making people wait which was odd for me. I’m not used to being that way. But just to realize that today is my day. Today it’s about me and that’s okay.

    Meagan: Exactly. I feel like so many of us moms especially in labor are so like, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” We don’t want to put anyone out but really, it’s okay. They can wait. They don’t have to have anything right then. 

    Janelle: Here’s a funny part. I guess some people came in while I was nearing pushing. I was feeling pressure and saying, “I think I need to push.” People are coming in and introducing themselves. My doula says that I told them, “It’s very nice to meet you all but not right now,” while I was doing the thing. I thought that was kind of funny that those manners came out during such a time. 

    Meagan: Yep. 

    Janelle: But anyways, so 9.5 centimeters. I was super excited. My water broke soon after that. I was confirmed complete about 40 minutes after my water broke. About 20 minutes after starting to push, our baby was born. 

    Meagan: 20 minutes?!

    Janelle: Yeah, loudly crying. She was a little over 9 pounds and I was just so stunned that it had happened. I was so glad that it had happened. 

    Meagan: Yes! Oh my gosh. That’s fast pushing. 

    Janelle: It was. I was up in the position where you lean the bed up and you lean over the back so maybe a modified all-fours type thing. 

    Meagan: Yeah, yeah. Oh, I love it. I love it. 

    Janelle: Yeah, me too. 

    Meagan: That is awesome and you did. You labored as long as you could there at home and then you got there. It’s just so awesome to hear the difference where it’s like, “Yeah, I don’t want that. I don’t want that. Okay. Now, I’m okay with that.” That’s something I’d like to make note of for the listeners is that it’s okay to not want something and say no, and then it’s okay to change your mind if that’s what you want. Right? 

    Same thing with epidurals and getting an epidural. You can change your mind in labor. It’s okay. You’re totally warranted in doing that and it can help you when you are the one making the decision. Like you were saying, “I was really glad I didn’t check before then because I was in this great labor space and then I was ready and that was okay with me.” 

    Janelle: Exactly. It really, really pushed me along to know that I was 9.5. I think it gave me a boost to say, “Okay, this is happening.” It gave me some confidence. 

    Meagan: Yes, absolutely. You know, every time we have a storyteller, we have them fill out a sheet and the question is what is a secret lesson or something no one really talks about that you wish you would have known ahead of time when preparing for birth? Do you want me to read this or would you like to tell everybody?

    Janelle: I’ll tell everyone. 

    Meagan: Okay, yeah. 

    Janelle: So like I said, when I was preparing for my VBAC, I think I forgot to prepare for some obvious things because I was so focused on VBAC-specific things. So I forgot that music can be really motivating and special during transition. I think if I could go back, I would have thought of certain songs to request during that time. My doula was really kind and she had some songs in mind that she put on for me and they ended up being perfect. They are super special to me now but I think something to remember to plan, just picking a few songs that will motivate you or be special to you during that time because I remember it so clearly, those moments right before meeting your baby. 

    Meagan: Yes. It’s something that can help you stay in that space because sometimes transition can be scary or intense. It’s always different for everyone but if you have those familiar things, you’re doing something and you’re doing work but in a familiar space. I personally connect to music so much. I have my whole life. I used to be a dancer. Music connects to me and the same thing for me during birth and even preparing for birth. I would listen to those songs especially when I would struggle. If there was anything scary that had come into my mind or someone had said anything, I would go on and listen to those songs. To have that during that transition period would be so awesome. 

    Like you said, there’s probably a lot about your labor that you remember vividly and there are some things you don’t remember as vividly but to have those songs and you remember them. You probably remember what you were doing during that time. It’s just so powerful. 

    Janelle: Yeah. 

    Meagan: I love it. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your tips. 

    Janelle: You’re welcome. 

    Meagan: Are there any other tips that you would like to give our listeners before we go?

    Janelle: I think the last thing that I would say is I shared about how the situation that my family was in maybe wasn’t ideal but some things are just out of your control as far as where you will be laboring. I think I would just remember to focus on the things that I can control. On those days when you feel like you’re going crazy anticipating and preparing for your VBAC, I know I felt like I just want to know. I want to know if I’m going to have a VBAC. I want the day to come and I want to know, is it going to be a Cesarean or is it going to be a VBAC? 

    On those days where it just seems like you’re kind of, maybe the word is obsessing over it, I was there. I would just take a day off from thinking about it and when it came down to it, I was really able to relax when I realized it was not fully in my control. I can control some things and I’m going to do the best that I can. I really got to the point where I thought, “Even if I have another Cesarean, I’ve done all of this research and preparation that I feel like I would be able to choose that in a lot of ways and be confident that it happened.” In my first experience, that’s what really bothered me. I didn’t feel like I got to choose it. I wish I would have done things differently but I didn’t have all of that information. 

    Yeah, some things are just out of your control. 

    Meagan: So powerful. Like you said, we can only control what we can control. Sometimes it’s hard to not be able to control some things but if we can do our best to stay in there, educate ourselves, and be in that space like you said, even if it ultimately does go to a repeat Cesarean, we’re probably going to be looking at that very differently in the end. 

    Janelle: Exactly. 

    Meagan: I know for sure, I didn’t even have all of the stuff I wish I had with my second that ended in a repeat Cesarean. It wasn’t the birth I wanted, but I was a participant in at least making the final say and that stood out to me. I think that helped my recovery and it was healing for me to do that. 

    And then on top of that, I had things. I wanted to watch my Cesarean in particular. I wanted to feel more like a part of my Cesarean and that was huge. I was able to say those things. “I desire this.” It wasn’t within my control and I didn’t want that Cesarean. I definitely still felt pressure to have it, but at the same time, once I made the choice, I still was able to try and control some of the things that had happened. It really did. It reflects very differently to me today than I think it would have if I didn’t so I love that message. Thank you. 

    Janelle: You’re welcome. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    29m | Apr 19, 2023
  • Episode 230 Riley's VBAC + Length Between Pregnancies

    Riley shares valuable lessons learned as a first-time mama not knowing what to advocate for or how to advocate for herself during labor. Something as small as bringing your own gown to the hospital can make all the difference in finding your power. 

    Riley mentions some of the shocking things her first provider did which drove her to immediately switch as soon as she became pregnant again. Meagan and Riley discuss how key a VBAC-supportive provider is especially during short birthing intervals. Opinions on the ideal length between pregnancies vary dramatically among providers!

    Additional Links

    The VBAC Link Blog: Length Between Pregnancies

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, hello. It is Wednesday and we have another VBAC story for you today. Our VBAC storyteller is Riley so welcome, Riley, to the show. 

    Riley: Thank you. 

    Meagan: Yes. She is from Alabama so if there are any Alabama listeners out there, listen up because she definitely has a great story. I feel like there is something special about her, or I should say unique, about her story and that is the time between birth and pregnancy. That is something that’s really big in the VBAC world. We get a lot of questions about it. Unfortunately, we have a lot of providers naysaying VBAC when there is a close duration. I’m sure, Riley, you are going to tell us all about what types of stuff people said to you. 

    We are going to talk about that at the end as well because we do have a lot of people who have a close duration between birth and pregnancy. Yeah, so we are going to be talking about that. 

    Review of the Week

    Meagan: But of course, we have a Review of the Week so I want to make sure to read that review. This review is on Apple Podcasts and it’s from RokFray. It says, “Getting VBAC Ready. This podcast has been inspiring and motivational to me as I prepare for a VBAC with my fourth baby.” 

    Oh, that’s awesome. 

    “Listening to each of these stories and realizing that through listening, I am learning how to advocate for myself and my family. It’s been a true blessing. Thank you.”

    Well thank you, RokFray, and I am with you. I feel like one of the best things about this podcast is truly learning how to advocate for yourself. That comes with getting educated. We have to educate ourselves in order to advocate for ourselves because if we don’t know what we’re advocating for and we don’t know the stats, facts, risks, and all of that stuff, it’s hard to advocate. You’re like, “I don’t know any better. I don’t know any better.” 

    So if you guys are also wanting to learn more about VBAC and all of the stats and facts, we also have a VBAC course. If you guys didn’t know, we have a parent and a birth worker course. You can find them at thevbaclink.com/courses. 

    Riley’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Riley. Thank you so much for being here. 

    Riley: Yes, I’m so excited. 

    Meagan: I’m excited too. I would love to turn the time over to you. I know both of your stories are vastly different. Everybody’s stories are usually different but I would love to know and have you share your stories. 

    Riley: So my name is Riley. Like you said, I do live in Alabama. My husband and I will have been married for three years this coming May. We are practicing Catholics and fully open to life hence, the two kids are close together. 

    Meagan: I love it. 

    Riley: We have been blessed with two kids these past two years of marriage. So one kid one year and another kid the next. I am a stay-at-home mom. My son is 18 months old and my daughter is 4 months old right now. It’s a very busy time of my life. 

    Meagan: Very busy, yes. 

    Riley: 5 months after we were married, I found out I was pregnant. I was finishing up college and hadn’t quite graduated yet. I had no knowledge of pregnancy, birth, or hospital interventions. That wasn’t a term in my vocabulary at all. I just didn’t really know much about it. I was very thankful to have a sweet cousin during my first pregnancy who basically walked me through it. She helped me know kind of what to expect but I still didn’t know how much of an advocate I was going to have to be for myself. 

    I learned so much going through that first pregnancy. Some knowledge I gained through that experience and then some knowledge was just research topics that would pop up and I would look at.

    The main thing that I learned from my first pregnancy was that I was just way too compliant. For example, I learned that you can say no to cervical checks. That was a very small thing it seems like to some people, but that is something that some first-time mamas just really don’t know anything about. 

    I’ve learned that, and that you can choose whether or not you get all of the recommended vaccines during pregnancy. You can also choose small things like whether or not you want to labor in the hospital gown or if you want to wear your own clothes. You can say that you’re going to move during labor instead of laying in bed the entire time which happened to me. We’ll get to it. 

    All of this might sound like common knowledge but it isn’t for everyone, especially for those first-time mamas like I said who don’t have a lot of outside resources other than the hospital staff which is not always the best resource. 

    Meagan: I agree. That is something that I would love to carry on a comment from that. This podcast is very VBAC-specific. People are wanting to have a vaginal birth after a Cesarean and are learning the good things, but I feel like this podcast really would benefit everybody, especially first-time moms learning about, like you said, interventions. That wasn’t even in your vocabulary. You were like, “What?” 

    Riley: Yeah.

    Meagan: So walking through this podcast and learning what interventions can maybe lead to a Cesarean or how certain situations could lead to a Cesarean or what you can and can’t do. Like you said, you are your own advocate and you can say no to anything. Riley, you’re not the only one that was very go-with-the-flow. Guess what? I was too. So many of these listeners were very compliant. “You say that. You know better than I do. You went to medical school and midwifery school.” Again like you said, it’s not always the best resource to have just that information. There might be a lot of information outside of exactly what they’re giving you. So I love that you said that. 

    Riley: Yes. My friends who are first-time mamas, I’m just trying to fill them with all of the knowledge because it’s almost like with your first birth, you want to prevent that Cesarean. That’s almost how the interventions have become and how bad it’s gotten. I’m just always in my mind, “Please let me help you be able to have your first baby vaginally and not have a Cesarean.” 

    Meagan: Yeah, yeah. Let’s get these rates down and it starts with not having a Cesarean the first time assuming you don’t want one. We know some people do and they have reasons why and that’s totally fine. But yeah, getting this rate down would be great. 

    Riley: So to continue, my first pregnancy was very normal, no complications. My son’s due date was estimated for the end of June which is another big thing that doctors put. They put a lot of pressure on that due date. So when you’re that first-time mama, you’re waiting for that day. When that day comes, you feel like something’s wrong. It’s a lot of pressure. My husband and I had in our minds that baby boy would be in our arms mid to late June. It was a lot of pressure on that due date. 

    My mom had me on my due date so these people I was surrounded with, it was like, “Okay, we’re waiting on the due date.” 

    Meagan: Yes. We have a VBAC Link Podcast follower that said, “As much as I was okay with going over my due date, it was the daily pressure that got to me.” Having that pressure at the end of your pregnancy doesn’t help us go into labor.

    Riley: Yes. So much pressure. No, it doesn’t. 

    So when the due date came and nothing happened, we were a bit surprised because most providers like I said, put lots of pressure on having the babies on that date or very, very close to that date. 

    Once the due date had passed, I began to get slight pressure for an induction, no reason other than I had passed my due date. We knew we wanted to wait for my body to go into labor naturally if possible. That was our goal. 

    So at 41 weeks, my water broke. I was having no contractions. My water broke, no pain or anything with that. Regretfully, my husband and I packed it up and headed to the hospital. That was just our gut feeling. We called the nurses and they told us to head there. If I were to do it again, that pregnancy and that time frame, I would definitely wait at home longer and just labor at home and wait on those contractions to come and not go. Even if your water breaks, you’re going to be fine. 

    Meagan: You’re going to be fine. And if your water breaks, take a quick note. Let’s run through it. “How am I feeling? Do I feel like I have a fever? Do I feel like something is wrong? Is there a lot of meconium on the ground?” You can run through this checklist and say, “Okay. Everything’s okay. I feel great. Baby is moving. Everything is great.” Do a mental checklist. 

    Riley: Yeah, so we packed it up and headed to the hospital. We only had a 20-minute drive so we got there pretty quickly. Once we entered, it was just a cascade of interventions. As soon as I walked in, my mindset was going to be, “Active during labor. Walk around the hospital room and be able to get into positions that I want.” As soon as I walked in the door, they asked me to take my clothes off, get into a hospital gown, and get into the hospital bed. 

    I asked if I could– because this might be TMI but I had put a diaper on because it was most comfortable for me because my water had broke and after your water breaks if you don’t know, you need a little something down there to walk around. 

    Meagan: You just keep leaking. Yes, you do. 

    Riley: That was my plan. So they wanted me to strip down and just get in bed. I asked if I could do what I wanted and they basically gave me a stern no because of the infection. 

    Meagan: Let’s just stop right there. How does infection come into removing your clothes or not removing your clothes or having a diaper or not?

    Riley: Or get an infection walking around.

    Meagan: I’m sorry, but vaginas are not vacuums. They don’t just suck up infections. Things have to be inserted into them. 

    Riley: Yes, yes.

    Meagan: So you wearing a diaper or a pad is not– yeah. 

    Riley: Not very much logic when into that. 

    Meagan: I digress. 

    Riley: That was our first, I would call it, intervention. It’s very small, putting a hospital gown on, but it was the first one of many. 

    Meagan: But for you, it was an intervention in the way of where you were like, “Wait, that’s not what I want to do,” and then you didn’t feel at the time because we didn’t know. You weren’t given an option. It’s just like, no. 

    Riley: That’s the number one thing that starts making my comfort level go down. 

    Meagan: Yeah, exactly. 

    Riley: In labor, you need to be as comfortable as possible. 

    Meagan: You’re becoming very vulnerable at that moment. 

    Riley: I later realized that the risk of infection, like we said, is very low, and after your water breaks, walking around is not going to cause an infection. It was a very slippery slope after that. I was put on a time clock due to my water breaking, so the doctor wanted the baby out in 24 hours. I really had no knowledge about that. I was just like, “Okay,” staring at this clock on the wall. Man, these 24 hours happen fast. 

    Meagan: It really does. 

    Riley: The hours go by and it’s not happening like the doctor wants it to. I’m getting nervous. I didn’t really want to use Pitocin, but that was something that he wanted to do so we compromised. I was like, “As long as you do it at a very, very, very low dose and do it very slowly.” So he started the PItocin. At this point, I’m still bedridden. They would not even let me get up to go to the bathroom. They gave me a bedpan. 

    Meagan: So crazy. 

    Riley: The bathroom was literally right there. I asked them if I could go to the bathroom and they were like, “Oh no. We’ll bring you a bedpan.” I’m like, “That’s not what I want.” 

    Meagan: I want to get up and move. 

    Riley: So the contractions were not fun stuck in the bed on Pitocin. Pitocin contractions are not fun period, but if you get to walk around with them, I feel like you can cope with them. But being stuck on your back in the bed, you can’t really cope anyway in that position. 

    So then I ended up asking for an epidural because I was not coping well in bed with those Pitocin contractions. 

    Meagan: You’re stuck in one spot. 

    Riley: Mhmm. Fast forward to time to push and the doctor told the nurses to pull the epidural. No questions asked. It was almost like I wasn’t in the room and he was just talking and giving the nurses orders.

    Meagan: Wow. 

    Riley: He came in a few times and asked if I was feeling pressure. I always told him, “No, not really. No.” I knew when my contractions were coming, but no. I’m not feeling any pressure. He didn’t like that answer and he told the nurses to pull the epidural. It was a weird feeling in the room. He walked out and the nurses turned the epidural monitor around. They told me, “We’ll leave it in as long as we can.” They were against the doctor. They said, “We’re just going to watch for him down the hallway and when he comes back, we’ll pull it. We’ll let you have it for as long as possible.” They said, “He does this to everybody.” 

    Meagan: What?!

    Riley: I was like, “Okay, thank you.” Anyway, by the time he got back, they pulled it without my consent. I was supposed to last for a couple of hours. It probably lasted 30 minutes and I could feel everything. That’s a huge change going from that medication to nothing. 

    Meagan: Yes, yes. 

    Riley: I pushed for over an hour until I heard the words no mother wants to hear and that was, “Stop pushing.” He was staring at the monitor. It felt like an eternity but he eventually told me what was going on. He said that the baby’s heart rate was spiking every time I would push so even though my body was wanting to push, he was telling me, “No, no. Don’t push.” 

    He eventually announced that we were going to do an emergency Cesarean. My mom and husband were there. My husband started suiting up to go to the OR for the Cesarean. The anesthesiologist had to come back to push the epidural back because I didn’t have it anymore so she was trying to do that and she got tears in her eyes. She was like, “I don’t think it’s working.” I was like, “Yeah, I can feel the washcloths and everything you’re putting on my legs. I can feel everything.” She was like, “You’re going to have to be intubated. Your husband or mom, nobody can go back there with you. You have to go back there by yourself.” 

    I was like, “Okay. Let’s just get this show on the road if this is what we’re doing. I’m in so much pain. I’m tired of talking about it.” They rolled me back there by myself. I waited for a minute and then they put me under. I basically woke up in a closet-like room without baby, without my husband, and just by myself. I was crying and I was like, “Where’s my baby?” The doctor was standing over me and he tells me how big my baby is or something. I had a decently big baby, like 9, 12. 

    It was just very traumatic, all of the interventions, waking up without my baby, and having this emergency surgery, not getting to be awake when my baby was born, missing all of the first times. They went ahead and did all of the stuff without me. I didn’t meet him until he was already two hours old because that was how long it took me to wake up and everything. My husband was there with the baby. 

    Meagan: Can I ask how long from the time when he was like, “Your baby’s heart rate is dropping, we’re going to have to do a Cesarean,” to you going and having a Cesarean?

    Riley: Like how long from when he announced I was having it?

    Meagan: You mentioned it was an emergency but I was just curious because it seemed like a lot of stuff had happened leading up. 

    Riley: Yeah, it was pretty quick. It wasn’t like everybody was rushing around and getting me back really fast. But it was like, “Okay, emergency Cesarean,” then they tried the epidural. That’s what took a little bit of time and then maybe I would say maybe an hour. Maybe I’m wrong. 

    Meagan: Yeah, no. I’m always so curious when providers say “an emergency Cesarean” and then this emergency takes so much time. An emergency is quick. You’re saying all of these things and I’m like, “Oh.” 

    Riley: I guess if it really would have been an emergency, they wouldn’t have tried the epidural since I didn’t have it. 

    Meagan: No, yeah. 

    Riley: They would have just taken me straight back there and put me under. 

    Meagan: But we hear emergency in our reports and they’re telling us it’s an emergency and we get scared. “Emergency” is a very big word. I’m sorry, keep going. I’m loving this. 

    Riley: That is basically the end of my first story. So that was just very traumatic, but then we were still open to life so we were not going to close that off. I was also kicked out of my six-week postpartum appointment. I never really got to that postpartum when they even say, “Wait a certain amount of time,” so I never encountered that because it was just an odd situation. I just didn’t go to it so we just did our thing. We had our baby and then we were just like, “We’re just going to go with it and see what happens.” 

    We actually got pregnant five months after having my son. Something about the five-month timeframe for us, but I knew initially that I wanted to have a vaginal birth. I had so many things running through my head when I was staring at that pregnancy test. The first thing I knew that I wanted to do was to change providers. I knew that if I was going to plan for a VBAC, then I needed not just someone who was tolerant but someone who was going to be completely on board with my VBAC. I didn’t want any rolling eyes. I wanted to be on the same page. 

    I asked friends and family and finally found one. The instant we met, I knew that she was a perfect fit for us. I had a pretty normal pregnancy once again except for some tachycardia that lingered and would not go away. In addition to changing providers, I also knew that I wanted to write a very detailed birth plan which I did not do with my first pregnancy of all of my wishes and everything that I wanted. I talked with my provider at the end of my pregnancy and she had no reservations about anything. 

    At around 30-ish weeks, she mentioned me getting a doula. I didn’t really know everything a doula entailed, so I did some research and talked it over with my husband. At 37 weeks, we decided to hire a doula. 

    Meagan: I love it. I love it. It’s never too late until the baby is born to hire a birth doula. It’s never too late until you’ve had a baby. 

    Riley: It was definitely towards the end but we got her in. We were eagerly awaiting those contractions. I had never felt that slow progression of early labor because, with my first like I said, just my water broke with no contractions. 

    Finally, at 40+3– she came a little bit earlier– I had the smallest contractions at 4:00 AM. They kept coming at random times. The new provider we chose is a much longer drive. She is about 45 minutes away. We did keep that in mind. Around lunch, the contractions were a little stronger and much more regular. After nine hours of laboring at home, we headed to the hospital. I had very regular contractions on the 45-minute drive there. We arrived and finally got admitted to a room after going through triage. 

    I was dilated to about a 5 and I was at -1 station, 90% effaced. 

    Meagan: Great, yeah. Really great progress. 

    Riley: I labored in all of the positions that felt most comfortable to me, never being forced to be in the bed. I was even able to get in the shower at one point. After 15 hours of laboring including that early stage at home, I was just exhausted and began to have back labor. I was just contemplating an epidural because I was so tired of laboring. After getting the epidural, I was able to rest a bit until it was time to push. 

    I do think the epidural probably prolonged my labor a bit. I’m just going to throw that out there. It’s kind of a win-lose situation. You get some rest and feel a little bit better come time for pushing, but then you look back on it and think, “Did the epidural really prolong this an extra 2-3 hours?” 

    I was given a light epidural which was such a blessing. If you don’t know what that is, you can ask for a light epidural and I would suggest that to anybody wanting to get one because it gives you the ability to feel all of the contractions and to feel the pressure as well. That is such a big deal. I was actually able, with my epidural, to get in different positions for the baby and to also push on my own and not have to be coached with the countdown and all of that. I was able to just feel my body and know what was happening. 

    My provider and doula teamed together and gave me all sorts of positions to try and help labor the baby down. Three hours of pushing and a busted blood vessel in my eye later, the baby was finally born. She was healthy and I had no complications afterward. I was like, “It actually happened. I did it.” 

    Meagan: You did. 

    Riley: I did. I achieved the VBAC that I desired for these whole nine months. This story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all of the rosaries and prayers said in preparation for this birth. We knew our baby’s name pretty early on. We chose to name her after two saints– Saint Sylvia and Saint Anne. Both of these saints really helped us through the entire pregnancy. The Blessed Virgin Mary and God especially were there every step of the way hearing all of our prayers and knowing that they would be answered in God’s own time. 

    Even when I was getting anxious around the estimated due date, He knew that three days later, I would have my successful, redemptive, holy VBAC. Thanks be to God. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. I love it. I love it. You talked about blood vessels bursting in your eye. Sometimes that happens. 

    Riley: It does happen. 

    Meagan: It does happen. We try to avoid it but sometimes it happens. 

    Riley: Yes. 

    Meagan: Oh, well congratulations. 

    Riley: Thank you. 

    Meagan: I love it. I would love to talk about the 5-month mark and everything. You got pregnant kind of soon. What would people say to you? What would providers say to you about really more in-depth of what they would say to you about this? Did they place doubt? Did they encourage? It seems like overall, they were pretty dang supportive. 

    Riley: Yeah, so we changed providers so the only provider I encountered was our new provider with the spacing. The people we encountered, there was a lot of negativity. Family members and people were very nervous about something happening and me not thinking about my body and taking care of myself. Things like that. Our provider was totally on board. 

    Meagan: Okay. That’s awesome. 

    Riley: I was very nervous. That first appointment, I really was planning on going in and her making the decision and her saying, “You’re either going to have to have a Cesarean or you can try for a VBAC.” I figured she would tell me one or the other. I walked in and she totally just puts the ball in your court. She says, “It’s up to you. I’m going to give you the stats. I’m going to give you both sides.” It’s just literal stats. It’s something you can look up online. She was super supportive. I was nervous to say, “My son was born last July. I just had a baby.” 

    But she was like, “That’s not a big deal.” She said, “The time difference in your babies is not the issue.” She said, “It’s if you have complications in this pregnancy that might pose an issue to have a VBAC.” She was like, “The time difference, yeah maybe waiting a little bit longer could help you,” but she said, “14 months is not a huge deal at all.” Whereas if I would have gone to another provider, I don’t think that would have been what I would have heard. 

    Meagan: Yes. That is what we are finding. I always ask people what their providers say just because it’s so different and it’s dramatically different. 

    Riley: Yes. 

    Meagan: That’s what’s kind of interesting to me about everything. There are studies. There’s research and all of these things, but some providers will say, “Oh, you can’t get pregnant whenever. It needs to be a 24-month gap.” For some, it’s 18 months. For some, it’s 12 months. For some, it’s 15 months. It varies so, so dramatically. 

    There are studies that show that really, really close intervals like 6 months or something increases the chances of uterine rupture because we don’t have a Cesarean scar that is completely healed. It takes your body time to heal, but some tips to give to you right after pregnancy is eating well with high protein and really good nutrients. Feed your body all that it needs so it can do its job and recover quicker. 

    But it’s just so interesting to always hear. We have a mom that reached out probably a couple of weeks ago and she said, “I’m 20 months out and my provider said no.” They pretty much told her, “No, you’re going to have a uterine rupture.” She’s like, “Is this true?” It’s like, “No, it’s not.” We have a blog about getting pregnant after a Cesarean and how long should you wait? So be sure to check that out. It’ll be in today’s show notes or just at thevbaclink.com/blog but it isn’t a guarantee. It isn’t something. Here your provider was not really worried about it. Do you feel comfortable sharing with the audience your provider’s name? 

    Riley: Sure. She is actually not an OB. 

    Meagan: Is she family? 

    Riley: She’s family, yeah. She delivers babies all of the time. She actually has lots of experience with VBAC mamas so a lot of people go to her. Marcia Daniel at UAB in Huntsville. 

    Meagan: Awesome, awesome. So again, if you are listening now and you want to explore your options, there’s someone to check out. We always love suggesting providers. We have a list in our private VBAC Link Community on Facebook. We have a list under the Files section of providers all over the world of what people have said. We will make sure to get her added to that list. If you’re listening and you’re looking for a supportive provider that maybe is more accepting of birth and you want to check her out, check her out. 

    Okay, well thank you so much. 

    Riley: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thank you for having me on. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    31m | Apr 12, 2023
  • CAM #2 Kaitlin McGreyes + Be Her Village + Intentional Choices

    We are so excited to have Kaitlin McGreyes from Be Her Village here with us today! Kaitlin began Be Her Village as an avenue for women to register for birth services instead of typical baby shower gifts to help support their transition to motherhood. 

    Kaitlin shares how through her Cesarean and VBAC stories, she learned how to become an empowered and active participant during birth. 

    Kaitlin and Meagan also answer a burning question. What is the real formula for how to have a successful birth outcome? Research, research, research, then trust yourself to make choices that are best for YOU!

    Additional Links

    Kaitlin’s Website

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, hello you guys. It is Wednesday or maybe Friday or Thursday or Tuesday, whatever day it is that you are listening, today is Wednesday when we are recording The VBAC Link Podcast. I’ve been a little giddy for this episode because we have our friend Kaitlin. She and I connected. She is with Be Her Village and we actually connected two weeks ago. Maybe a week ago, a little bit ago. 

    We got off the phone and we both felt the same feeling, this energy. Can we just be best friends? That’s what you were saying. We’re best friends. It’s just so fun. We definitely have very similar passions and drives for the birth community and VBAC and all the things. 

    She has a story of her own today that truly led her to where she is right now which I think is one of the biggest things that relates the two of us because my journeys led me to where I am right now at my desk recording this podcast and serving this VBAC community. So I’m going to introduce her a little bit more in just a moment, but we do have a Review of the Week. 

    Review of the Week

    This was actually sent via email as well. We got two emails back to back about reviews. Just a reminder, if you have not had a moment to leave a review, please do so. We love them. They mean the world. Our team loves reading them. You can leave them on podcast apps like Apple or Google. You can send us a social media message on Facebook or Instagram or you can be like Daria did and she sent it to us via email. That is so wonderful as well. 

    She says, “I just wanted to leave a review of my favorite podcast. It’s almost an obsession at this point. I had a C-section with my twins almost two years ago and am currently pregnant with baby number three. I’m writing in March as I listen to your podcast on my walks and get ready for VBAC as much as I possibly can. I can’t describe how much valuable information and most importantly inspiration it gives me. Maybe it’s just pregnancy hormones but I swear I cry every time I listen to moms describing the emotional moments of their birth stories. Nothing feels more precious to me at that moment. I am dead set on having a VBAC in August and all of the episodes of the podcast give me extra encouragement and strength to advocate for myself. I religiously listen to every new episode and maybe I’ll get to hear this review soon.”

    Yes, you will. It is coming up soon, just before your VBAC actually, Daria. 

    It says, “Look out for my next email in August with hopefully a successful VBAC story. Thank you so much again for everything you do for women all over the world.” 

    Oh my gosh. Then she says, “P.S. English is not my first language. I’m from Ukraine but I hope my English is fluent enough to reflect my feelings.” 

    Oh my gosh. Kaitlin, is that not just an amazing review?

    Kaitlin: I really just feel it. I’m sitting here getting ready to tell my story and I’m getting teared up about the fact that the people listening are in my position right before I had my VBAC. It’s such a place of unknown. It’s such a place where you need support. It’s such a place where there are so many forces working against us unfortunately and the fact that this podcast and my story might help someone in their preparation. It might impact them. It might be what they need to hear to stay and get furiously determined. Oh my god. I love it. I want to give her a hug.” 

    Meagan: I know, right? I just want to squeeze her and say, “I love you. I love you. Yes, you can. Yes, you can advocate for yourself. Yes, you can do the things that so many people in this world believe are unachievable.” It makes my heart so sad to know that there are so many people out there that want a different experience and are told they can’t or are told it’s not possible. Yeah. I love that you’re here. I love that you’re in this space. I cannot wait for your email in August myself. 

    Kaitlin’s Stories

    Kaitlin: Oh my goodness. I am so excited. Let’s get her her VBAC. 

    Meagan: Yes! Let’s do this. Yes. You get so invested Kaitlin. It’s so amazing. You get so invested in this community. These people are writing and are like, “Hey, I have a question.” By the way, if you didn’t know, you can always email us at info@thevbaclink.com and write us your questions. We love speaking with you. We love doing consults. We love doing all of these amazing things to connect with you and to build you up whether that be through a consult or the blog or just an email or this podcast or our VBAC course. Whatever it may be, we want to help you through your journey.

    Kaitlin: It’s amazing. What you guys are doing, I’m so excited to even be here. This is the work. I’ve been a doula. I’ve helped so many people achieve their VBACs and witness them. I’ve literally been in the room with them, but this platform and everything you’ve created with it is helping so many people. It’s so powerful to have this narrative change. It’s so powerful for us to tell our stories and counter what the doctors are telling us, counter what maybe other people in our families are telling us. This fear and this risk and this, “How could you be so irresponsible to think about a vaginal birth? How selfish?”

    I don’t know if we’re allowed to curse here, but that is what drives me and that is so powerful to be like, “Nope. I did it. I trusted myself. I trusted my body. My body is not broken. I can do this with the right support, the right advocacy, and a little bit of luck.” Not going to lie, there is a little bit of luck in there. We can do this. That’s such an incredible message that we need to keep spreading again and again and again. How awesome is this? 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. I couldn’t agree more. Okay, you guys. We have Kaitlin and if you can’t already tell, we just are so passionate about birth and options and birth workers and all of the things. I’m so excited and honored to have you, Kaitlin, on this podcast. You guys, she is the founder of Be Her Village. Be Her Village. Definitely go check it out. She started doula work in 2014 which, you guys guess what? So did I. I didn’t know that until actually just barely. We started around the same time. She is so passionate about creating access to maternal care for all. She has a gift registry on this Be Her Village. You guys, it’s a platform. It is literally– actually, I’m going to let you talk about it because it is literally amazing and genius. Genius. 

    Kaitlin: Thank you. 

    Meagan: It is such a great tool for people because I’m sorry. I love all baby clothes. I love my baby clothes so much. 

    Kaitlin: I love baby clothes too. I don’t tell anybody that, but I also love baby clothes. 

    Meagan: I do, but after my two Cesareans specifically, actually even after my VBAC, luckily my husband was in a situation where he could be with me. He was home all of the time so we had the support but he could have even used some support. I loved all of those cute little baby gifts, but to have some resources or to have that doula that I wanted to hire with my second but my husband was like, “We can’t afford it. I don’t like the idea.” Right? Tell us about what you are doing with Be Her Village.

    Kaitlin: Awesome. Absolutely. First of all, thank you for having me. Meagan, I just love you. I love what you are doing. Everyone who is listening, thank you for this space to tell my story. Be Her Village is just my answer to having a baby and having this perfect nursery surrounded by all of the gifts, all of the wonderful, generous things that my friends and family showered me with, and actually having nothing I needed. Just feeling completely alone, being post-C-section because I didn’t have a doula. I couldn’t afford a doula. I didn’t know that I needed a doula. That wasn’t the norm. I was just surrounded by all of these gifts and had none of the support. 

    Breastfeeding was hard. The C-section recovery was hard. Life with a newborn was hard. It’s just difficult. What I’ve realized is that our community has so much love to give. They’ve sort of been tricked into this idea that all I need is stuff. We need stuff.

    Meagan: Wipe warmers. 

    Kaitlin: Yeah, wipe warmers and seventeen different bouncers.

    Meagan: You don’t really wipe warmers. Yeah. 

    Kaitlin: It’s a little extra. I feel like we can get all of the stuff in the baby nursery. You can get a whole baby’s store worth of stuff and you’re still going to need some support for yourself as a mother. So I thought of Be Her Village. I was like, “Why don’t we connect parents with doulas and why don’t we give doulas, lactation care, postpartum care, and pelvic floor visits as baby shower gifts?” 

    What an incredible gift to be like, “I’m going to help you get your VBAC. Here’s a doula to help you advocate for yourself. Here’s a pelvic floor provider so you can get back to running, Cross Fit, or exercise,” which for many of us is a mental health tool. What about impactful gifts that actually care for the mother so she can take care of herself and her baby?

    Meagan: Yes. Yes. This is something Julie and I did when we were together hundreds of episodes ago saying that you can afford a doula because we are huge advocates here for our doulas. Clearly, we’ve seen the impact and we just know this impact, but we talk about asking for money towards something else. You don’t have to. But this is an actual tool and resource where it is easy to do that. It is easy to do. It is easy to register for that. It’s incredible. I’m obsessed with it.

    Kaitlin: Thank you. 

    Meagan: I’m obsessed with you and I just can’t wait to one day actually finally meet you in person. 

    Kaitlin: Oh for sure. 

    Meagan: Yes. Just yeah and just to see you grow because this is so amazing. Women of strength, we understand. We understand that finances are not always in a place to have a birth doula, a photographer, a lactation consultant, a postpartum doula, and a PT pelvic floor or to give birth out of a hospital and all of these things. We know that these things cost. We know that they do but I’m telling you right now there is serious value in this and it is honestly so amazing to have a doula or support versus a baby wipe warmer or one extra pair of newborn onesies. 

    Kaitlin: Yeah. I want to provide insight into that. It’s not just that it feels good to moms because that’s something that we’re not always comfortable with. “I’d rather get something for my baby. I don’t need to feel good. I can do hard things.” And we can. We can do more than we know. But using a doula reduces your chance of a C-section. Using a doula reduces your chances of an episiotomy which is where they cut your perineum. It reduces the chance of forceps use or vacuum use. It reduces–

    Meagan: Time in labor. 

    Kaitlin: Time in labor which I’m like, “Just sign me up right there. Are you kidding? Forget about it.” 

    Meagan: Labor can be shortened by at least 41 minutes. 

    Kaitlin: And you know what? It’s more than just the shortness of the labor, it shortens pushing time and it increases the APGAR score of the baby which is literally the baby’s health upon being born. There are just so many things that a doula does. It’s not a promise that one doula will do that for you but collectively when people line up doula support, their outcomes, and their baby's outcomes are better. If you’re thinking about a VBAC which I’m guessing you are if you’re listening to this, you need to get a doula. You need to think about a doula. It has always been this thing that I personally even as a doula felt uncomfortable saying and recommending because how can you say, “Hey, doulas are vital. Sorry, you don’t have $1000.” 

    Meagan: Or more.


    Kaitlin: Or way more. It’s such an uncomfortable conversation. That’s why I created Be Her Village because 12 billion dollars are spent on baby gifts every year for baby showers. It’s like, “Well maybe the generosity exists. Maybe the love exists and maybe the money exists. We just need to create a platform where people can line up their doulas and ask for them for their baby shower gifts.” That’s exactly what we did and we’ve had over $135,000 gifted on Be Her Village directly to parents. They’re getting the gifts. They’re getting the support and it’s literally the coolest thing in the world. 

    Meagan: It’s so amazing. 

    Kaitlin: It’s just so cool to see it come to life and to have people find out about it, then literally get better gifts that are taking care of them and improving their entire experience. Unfortunately, it’s because I needed it. I wish I could go back in time and do it again which is something we really often hear is, “Oh my god. Where was this when I was having my baby?” 

    Meagan: Right? That’s why I’m here right now. I needed more. I felt alone in so many ways preparing for my VBAC. Everyone looked at me and was like, “What? You’re doing what?” I’m like, “Yeah. I want to push a baby out of my vagina. Why does that seem so weird?” Because I had that Cesarean, everyone was like, “No, you can’t do that.” I’ll tell you what, when I came around to that second C-section and was wanting to have a vaginal birth, it was even more mindblowing to people. It felt very lonely and cold. I was like, “No. No.” 

    There wasn’t a lot of inspiration. Facebook was going on and there were stories being shared but there wasn’t inspiration like what we have today. There wasn’t a lot of knowledge in one spot so that’s why we’re here today. 

    Kaitlin: I have to say that one of the things too, and there is so much to talk about, but this is actually part of my birth story too so it’s such an interesting place to begin. I think people legitimately think that vaginal birth and Cesarean birth are equally risky or quite honestly even the opposite. They think that vaginal birth is more dangerous than Cesarean. It’s like, of course. If that’s the underlying held belief, the subconscious belief is that vaginal birth is risk and Cesarean is not, then of course, Meagan, why would you do that? Why would you risk your life and your baby’s life just to have a vaginal birth? You don’t get an award for that. I’m just imagining what these people are thinking. 

    Meagan: They would say that. 

    Kaitlin: You don’t get an award and it’s like, “Well, hold on a second. What if we actually find out where the risk lies?” That was something. I was not set on a VBAC. Not at all. I was totally disappointed. I was probably the least impactful word I could use but there was just a defeated feeling about my C-section. I just felt like, “Oh, that wasn’t really what I wanted.” I also went into my VBAC birth, my second pregnancy sort of like, “I’m not going to take unnecessary risks for my baby or for myself just to get the VBAC badge or the vaginal birth experience.” 

    You have to balance your desires with what’s risky and what’s safe. So I didn’t research. I remember one of the things that stood out for me was that I had this vision of– and I’m sorry. Get your earmuffs ready. This might trigger somebody. But I had this vision of vaginal birth ending in hemorrhage and being very, very, very scary and very dangerous. I don’t know. This is what you see in the movies. So I didn’t research this. I don’t know if you know this Meagan. I’m so excited if I can share this with you for the first time but vaginal birth hemorrhage is 500 ccs of blood loss. Cesarean normal blood loss in a totally run-of-the-mill, we-did-a-great-job, there-was no-extra-bleeding Cesarean, is 1000 ccs. It’s double. 

    Meagan: Yes. 

    Kaitlin: As soon as I realized that, I was like, “Oh. We’re not talking about the same thing. Everyone talks about vaginal birth and C-section on this leveled playing field and we are not in the same ballpark.” That is incredibly risky when it goes normally. It is twice as risky as when a vaginal birth goes horribly wrong. To me, it’s like, “Oh, we’re not even in the same stratosphere.” It’s a completely different thing. I think once we start talking in facts and figures and we start really sharing that, it takes so much of the fear away. The fear can be such a big monster to deal with when we’re talking about VBAC because it’s scary. There are unknowns. Every pregnancy is a little scary because fear is what drives us but if you walk away with one fact from this podcast, just know that it is not the same thing. It’s not even close to the same thing. 

    Meagan: It’s not. It is not. It isn’t. Even with vaginal birth after a Cesarean, yes. There are risks to having a vaginal birth after a Cesarean, but it’s also not the same thing. There are also risks for a second Cesarean, a third Cesarean, and a fourth Cesarean, and the risks are pretty substantial. It’s important and I encourage you if you are preparing to actually look at the pros and cons of both sides. I also want to point out that sometimes the cons of a vaginal birth might make you be like, “Yeah, I don’t want to do that. That’s actually not what I feel comfortable with. That’s not what my heart says.” And that is okay. Also, know the risks and the cons of the other side. So know the pros and the cons of both vaginal birth, vaginal birth after Cesarean, and vaginal birth after multiple Cesareans. Know those risks. Dial in and decide what risk is applicable, safe enough, and comfortable enough for you. 

    My risk, I live a little bit more on the edge. I have jumped out of a plane multiple times and I have a friend who thinks that is the scariest thing and she won’t do it because she has children. She fears the risk of dying. I totally understand. 

    Kaitlin: I’m like, “I would VBAC every day of my life and I will never jump out of a plane. They are not the same risks.”

    Meagan: Right? So not the same risks to you and to me. So I’m like, “Yeah, my risk is nothing. It’s not enough for me to not jump out,” and you’re like, “Yeah, no. I’m not doing that.” So it depends. There are benefits and risks to both sides. You have to decide what is best for you. What risk is impactful enough for you to make that decision? Know that it’s okay if you are not making the decision that Sally is making. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a woman of strength. It doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Nothing. You’re not failing your body. You’re not failing your baby if you make one choice or another. 

    Kaitlin: Absolutely. The big thing is that you have to get that information so that you know the right information so that when you have to go talk to a doctor and they write you off and say, “Nope. We do repeat C-sections because it’s risky,” that you actually know what they’re talking about and you actually know whether you are at risk or not because there is a much bigger picture than what you might get at a standard OB’s office. 

    Meagan: Yes. Absolutely, so this information is so important. Cesarean Awareness Month is April and one of the biggest things that a lot of say are, “So are we promoting Cesareans?” It’s not that we are promoting Cesareans, it’s that we are promoting information about Cesareans, VBAC, and your options. Even though Cesarean Awareness Month is in April, every month is Cesarean Awareness Month in my mind. Every single month and every single day is information that we need to be sharing, that we need to be getting out there because women of strength, you need to know these stats and these facts so that you can make the choice that is best for you. 

    Kaitlin: Yes. Oh, I love that. 

    Meagan: I don’t know exactly all of the choices and the things that led up to your Cesarean but for me, I didn’t know. I walked in. I was uneducated, you guys. I was young. I was 22. I just knew I was going to have a baby. I went to the same doc that my mom did who delivered me via Cesarean coincidentally and all of these things. I just didn’t know. It takes knowledge. It takes time. It takes time. If you are willing to put in that time, you will likely, even if it ends in a Cesarean, feel better about your outcome and carry on with your life. 

    Kaitlin: Yeah, and that VBAC prep, I don’t think anyone here is anti-Cesarean. It’s such an interesting thing to point out because there’s nobody out there that is saying– April is not an anti-Cesarean month. 

    Meagan: No. It’s awareness. 

    Kaitlin: It’s awareness so that you can go in with intention, with a conscious choice, and with the information you need. You know what? I went through a whole research phase. I was not sure that VBAC was for me. I wasn’t because I wasn’t sold one way or the other, but the ability to have a choice is everything. That is where your power comes from. It’s not from being the loudest, the strongest, the fastest, or even having a VBAC. It’s about getting there on your terms. 

    I know people who have had surprise VBACs believe it or not. I should send her to you. A surprise VBAC was not planned and she was kind of traumatized by it because she was planning a repeat C-section. She didn’t go through that prenatal that a lot of people listening are going through of, “Okay, so what are my options and how do I step into my path here?” Whatever that path might be, there’s a lot of power and a lot of healing in whatever birth you have, but unless you do that work of identifying your choices and not just your risk assessment but also your practitioners and lining yourself up with support, then you’re going to be sort of that passive participant. 

    I think, not all of us, some of our C-sections come after being active, but with a lot of us, myself included, there was this passivity where as soon as I hit the hospital, I was stripped of my power, stripped of my clothes, stripped of my humanness, and told to lay back flat. Keep the baby on the monitor. Here’s your medication and boom. That’s a C-section. 

    It all happened to me and I wasn’t actively there. That was a big part of what changed for me. I felt like I benefited from my VBAC whether I had a C-section or vaginal birth. For the record, I absolutely asked for a C-section as soon as I hit transition. I said to my doula, “Okay. I’m done. I’m done with this. Can we just get a C-section?” I’m really glad I asked my doula and not my OB. 

    Meagan: Right? Right? Your doula and your team were probably like, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Let’s give her ten minutes.” That is a very normal thing too to say. We need to hear your stories. Let’s hear them. We could chat forever. But let’s hear these.

    Kaitlin: Oh cool, okay. I know. We’re already halfway through. I can give you a quick synopsis of the C-section because I feel like it’s always relevant when we’re talking about VBAC. 

    My C-section was a 41-week induction, the oldest story in the book. Mine was a little bit interesting because I actually planned an out-of-hospital birth and I planned a midwife-supportive birth. I got a little bit of the bait-and-switch. It’s a little spicy because in New York where I was giving birth at the time, midwives could not own a birth center. Now they can, there has been a huge push in legislation on that but at the time, I was told that midwives were in charge of my care and they were not. They were on the phone with an invisible OB I had never met. I did not know he was calling all of the shots. 

    I always start off by saying that I planned an out-of-hospital birth with midwives. I thought I was doing all of the right things. That is part of what makes me feel a little extra angry about my treatment because I thought I was doing the right thing and I wasn’t. 

    Meagan: They never told you that you were actually under an OB umbrella?

    Kaitlin: Nope. Everything was midwife-facing. It was really disingenuous the way that they did that and then basically at the 41-week appointment, literally, an OB was on the phone with them in their ear telling them it was time to induce and I was sent to the hospital for an induction. I didn’t know that was the bad part. It’s only sort of upon reflecting and becoming a doula and realizing that, “Wait. They were never really in charge.” 

    Meagan: You never actually had the midwife you thought you had. 

    Kaitlin: No. I was not in midwifery care. I had a midwife mouthpiece for an OB. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Kaitlin: That wasn’t great. It’s also awful because that’s the only birth center in New York. New York state is so far behind the rest of the country in a lot of ways and birth centers are definitely one of them. I want as a doula, in my heart of hearts, I want to recommend birth centers but I can’t recommend that one because of the way that they behaved and their ownership. 

    So I went to the hospital and it was alarming to me how fast the power was stripped away. My voice– my midwife dumped me there and left me there. This is crazy to say because I’m such an advocate and I’ve doula’d people through so many things that to say I allowed this for myself is kind of amazing. I was given Cytotec, a double dose of Cytotec in the C-section recovery room. That’s where they sent me because I was in this busy Brooklyn hospital and I was set up with Wendy, the nurse, who I hate. I still remember Wendy. These people become bigger characters in your story. 

    Meagan: They do. 

    Kaitlin: Because they stay with you. But anyway, long story short, I went from nothing eating a sandwich with my family to absolutely full-blown, every three-minute transition level contractions. I couldn’t move. She wouldn’t let me move off of my back. I felt like a trapped animal. I ended up getting the epidural because my whole birth plan was out the window. 

    Meagan: Oh, I’m sure. 

    Kaitlin: I was like, “Why am I torturing myself?” and the baby didn’t respond well to the epidural. His heart rate went down and I just looked at my team. They all looked very nervous and I said, “What are we doing here?” She said, “The OB is going to come to talk to you in about 45 minutes.” I’m like, “This baby is actively in distress.”

    Meagan: But your baby is not doing well.

    Kaitlin: Actively in distress. The OB was going to come in 45 minutes. I looked at her and I say this, the only reason this is okay is because I said it. I would never say this to another person but I looked at her and I said, “I want a healthy baby. I want a healthy baby at the end of this.” I say that because it’s really toxic to be like, “At least you had a healthy baby.” It’s like, “Okay. I get to say.” What I was trying to say to her in the fog of the labor was, “After all of this misery and all of this horrible treatment, at the very least I would like a baby that’s alive and handed to me.”

    So I did. I got a C-section. It was scary. It was cold literally and otherwise. It was not what I wanted. It was not the ending that I wanted. I ended up in my house. My husband was back at work. He didn’t have literally any time off and he was back at work the day that I was released from the hospital two days later. It was just underwhelming. It was not how I wanted to enter motherhood. 

    Meagan: No. 

    Kaitlin: In the least. I felt like besides the physical– the physical recovery was horrible and I recovered really well but it was just so intense. It’s major surgery. I also just felt disempowered. I felt highly anxious. I didn’t realize it until later that it was postpartum anxiety but I was just so set off-kilter by the whole experience. It just took my power and my voice and my strength away from me and then handed me a baby and a C-section scar. I was like, “Oh. That’s not how I thought motherhood was going to go.” 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh, yeah. That’s hard and being alone. Oh, man. 

    Kaitlin: Yeah, being alone. 

    Meagan: It started your journey off really intensely. 

    Kaitlin: It was really hard. Then when I had my second, I just knew it needed to be different. I knew I needed to do more research. I actually, this is funny. I did everything the opposite. I planned hospital birth. I planned an OB birth. I hired a doula. Everything I didn’t do, I did the opposite. But the thing I did along the way was that I was really intentional about all of my choices. 

    I found the doctor that does VBACs where I live. There’s a handful of them and I found Jessica Jacob at North Shore. She does a lot of Orthodox Jewish women who see her. That’s her practice. A lot of those women have 6, 7, 8, and 9 babies so when they have a C-section if the thing is “once a C-section, always a C-section,” that can result as we talked about earlier, that can result in really dangerous situations. So she specializes in VBAC, vaginal births, and preventing those primary C-sections.

    So I went to her. I had done my own research and then I went to her and said, “Knowing my story and looking at my chart, am I a candidate?” She said, “Absolutely.” I was like, “Okay, sold. I’m in.” 

    Meagan: That’s awesome. 

    Kaitlin: Yeah, it was really good. This one was so much less traumatic and not even less traumatic. I had a full-blown spiritual experience with my VBAC. It was completely on my own terms. It was private. The day that I went into labor was my due date believe it or not. What a magical little baby. Awesome and obedient and wonderful. Now he’s not. He’s not obedient at all. He’s 8 now. He’s not obedient. 

    But it was actually Father’s Day in 2014. That was my due date. I woke up with these little Braxton Hicks turned into these contractions that would– you know the Braxton Hicks where they just tighten and release and you have them forever? It was like that except at the very height of it, it was this little squeeze that just took my attention. I was like, “Oh, what? What is this?”

    Meagan: You’re like, “Oh, something’s happening.” 

    Kaitlin: Because I had never been in my own labor. This is part of it. I had never been. I had this suspicion, you know that intuition, I just knew that if I could get into labor, I could do this. I went to an acupuncturist, one that my doula recommended. They put these beads on my ears. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this Meagan.

    Meagan: No. 

    Kaitlin: Okay, so they put beads on my ears in these pressure points and they taped them. Then he told me as much as I could, and I am touching on the actual points because that’s where they were. I’ll never forget where they were. And to just pinch them and just keep doing that as much as you can to activate. 

    Meagan: Really?

    Kaitlin: I did it. That was Friday. Friday night was when I went. I pinched and squeezed those until Saturday. I literally ripped the tape and the beads off. I was totally overstimulated and couldn’t touch them anymore but I did as much as I could. I remember knowing that I had an instinct that I was going to go into labor because I could not stop eating the day before. It’s so interesting how our bodies know. 

    Meagan: It’s fueling. They’re fueling. Our bodies fuel. I did the same thing with my VBAC. It was so weird. I had all of this energy and was eating all of the stuff. 

    Kaitlin: Everything. 

    Meagan: Everyone was like, “How are you eating that much? You’re 9 months pregnant.” I’m like, “I don’t know. I’m so hungry.” 

    Kaitlin: My husband, we went out for lunch and he got food for me, him, and my two-year-old at the time. I remember looking at him and I was like, “What are you guys going to eat?” I was insatiable which had been different from any other day. So anyways, I wake up on Father’s Day, the day of my birth and it was this incredible, gentle, slow labor which was such a wonderful way to learn how to work with my body. 

    The whole morning was this questioning time of, “Am I in labor?” In between, I was literally like this talking in between. I would convince myself, “No, not in labor.” There was this whole discussion of, “Should we go to Father’s Day brunch?” Then I would have a wave come and I was like, “No, no, no. We’re not going to sit at a restaurant right now.” 

    Meagan: Yeah, no. 

    Kaitlin: So I labored like that all day with just me and my husband. We watched World Cup soccer. We got lunch. We were eating. I was learning how to move. I was learning how to breathe. Every single contraction was just this opportunity to figure out how to work with my body. 

    Then the nighttime came. It’s what you learn in your childbirth classes. At night, the night falls and it signals this privacy and safety. Again, it was still just me and my husband. Things just picked up. Oh my goodness. I remember my doula called me. I had been texting her all day. I didn’t want anyone to come. It was so private. 

    She called me and we spoke. I just gave her an update then we hung up the phone and it’s amazing the switch. Everything about labor is so mental and emotional. I just kicked into high gear. The waves that I was able to get on top of earlier, it was taking the full essence of my being to work through these contractions. It was so incredibly wild how fast that happened. 

    We labored at home until maybe midnight. Yeah, about midnight. We called our doula. We had called the doctor and said, “Hey, I think we’re going to come in.” The doctor said, “Well, she might get turned away. She’s not ready.” Because this is what VBAC-supportive looks like. It looks like saying, “You might not be allowed to be here because that’s how I keep you safe in this hospital.” 

    I remember that really stood out to me. It was like, “Oh, this is interesting what she is saying. Maybe I shouldn’t come.” So we waited as long as we possibly could. We called the doula around midnight. The doula came here to my house. I was on my knees next to my bed. I could not be in my bed for hours and hours. I looked at her as soon as she got there and I said, “Let’s go. It’s time to go.” She was like, “Oh, okay. I just got here.” Between my bedroom and my car, I had probably five contractions. It was just one after the other after the other. 

    At this point, I’m thinking that I’m going to go to the hospital and spend the day there. My mom will come for the birth. I’m not really getting–

    Meagan: Where you’re at. 

    Kaitlin: Where I am in labor because it’s part of labor. You just kind of can’t tell. 

    Meagan: It’s true. There’s no sense of time. There’s no sense of understanding sometimes. You’re like, “I know I’m feeling this, but it’s probably going to be a while.” 

    Kaitlin: Yeah, that’s actually literally a part of it. You’re not supposed to know. Your brain shuts down. The prefrontal cortex of language analysis shuts down and you’re living in this beautiful other existence where you’re in a wave. You’re out of a wave. You’re in a wave. You’re out of a wave. 

    So we went to the hospital. I walked all the way up. They offered me a wheelchair and I was like, “I literally cannot sit down. There’s not a chance of that.” So I waddled my way and had contractions every few minutes. When I got to the floor, they were like, “Okay, just skip triage. Go right to the room.” They took one look at me. I think they obviously knew that I was much closer than I knew. 

    I went to go pee in the bathroom in the room right before I went to go lay in the bed and get checked or whatever. When I sat on the toilet, I had a contraction and I now know it was spontaneous pushing. But I had this contraction where it was like, “Oooohh.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh. 

    Kaitlin: At the top, the peak, when you’re moaning, it just caught. It was like, “Oh my god. I think I’m pushing.” It was this weird thing. It was weird because I hadn’t experienced it before. So I got in bed and everything was really a blur because the doctor came. She checked me and she said I was 6 centimeters and +2 station, -2 station. I wasn’t ready. When I was pushing and I was working, the best thing she did was she just said, “Okay. Just do your thing. I’m going to be right outside.” 

    The nurses were skirting around asking me so many questions and I just ignored all of them. Where I was, was in the stars. I was just so far away from the hospital room. It doesn’t make sense but I just imagined this tunnel from the top of my head to the outer regions of the universe. That’s where I went. I went to this place that was just completely apart from the realities and the things that the nurses were worried about. I just could not care less. I was so deeply in tune with what I was feeling and where I was going in my brain and my body. 

    I remember feeling so primal in a good way. The first time, I felt like a trapped animal and this time, I felt like this primal goddess being just feeling deeply connected to every sense of myself and every sense of my body. It was just wild. It’s hard to put into words but it was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had laboring my baby down and pushing him out. There was no other anything at that moment. It was just me, my body, and this baby. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. 

    There were funny moments in it too. This is the reality side of it. At one point, I was curled up on my side against the side of the hospital bed. In the middle of a contraction, the bed starts going up and down, up and down. 

    Meagan: Was your head pushing it?

    Kaitlin: I snapped at my husband, “Why are you moving the bed?” He was like, “It’s you.” 

    Meagan: It’s you! 

    Kaitlin: So it was quite the sight. But yeah, and he just flew out. My body just apparently, so I didn’t realize this until a lot longer later, but I experienced fetal ejection reflex with my next baby who was a home birth, but I experienced it with him too. He went from inside of me to in the doctor’s hands in one big push. It was just wild. It was really wild and it was really, really the coolest thing ever. It’s hard to explain how intense the moment is and how good it feels to have that relief.

    Then the oxytocin was just pulsing. Everything is good. I remember he was put on my chest and he was so alert. He was so awake. He was not drugged. I was not drugged which was not necessarily part of the plan. I just want to throw that out there. I was wanting to go without an epidural but it wasn’t–

    Meagan: Set in stone. 

    Kaitlin: I wasn’t deadset on it, yeah. I was open to whatever happened. 

    Meagan: Which is healthy. That’s a healthy way. 

    Kaitlin: Because who knows? But it was so cool to have him go through those initial stages and be aware of his surroundings. I remember feeling even in that moment of joy, I remember feeling a little bit like I was experiencing what was stolen from me the first time around. It felt like a little bit of grief associated with that. I’m getting a little teary-eyed thinking about it right now. I honestly think it’s why I had a third baby. I should have had this. I should have had this the first time. He looked just like his big brother. It was just this feeling of, “I was really robbed.” I knew I was robbed the first time but I didn’t know what necessarily. 

    Meagan: Right, because you hadn’t been there yet.

    Kaitlin: I just knew there was something I was missing. There was this incredible feeling of triumph. That was absolutely the overwhelming feeling but there was this little linger of grief too, of just, “Oof. Now I know what I missed out on.” It was beautiful. I screamed from the top of my lungs, “I just had a baby out of my vagina!” Literally, the entire floor of the hospital could hear. My doula sent me a video of that later on. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh, I love that. I love that you have that. 

    Kaitlin: Yeah, I’d have to find it but it was just this pure, pure triumph. I was forever changed by that. I was forever changed by the whole experience and that vaginal birth was the culmination of all of the work I put in. It was the culmination of doing the research, lining up my support team, and doing this work to be an active participant in my care. It was the best thing in the whole world and I am forever changed by that moment. 

    Meagan: Yeah. I love that you said being an active participant in your care. It’s so important, listeners, for you to be that person in your birth and not have birth happen to you. We know it happens. We know. It happens way too often. I hope in time that we stop seeing it happen so often and it’s more of a rarity but right now, a lot of the time– I don’t want to make it sound like we are painting a bad picture on providers or the system or anything like that. I mean, look. You were going out of the hospital–

    Kaitlin: And I still got burned. 


    Meagan: It depends, right? But it’s so important and it all stems back to what we were talking about in the beginning is having the education, having the support, and being prepared to be that active participant and to be that person and finding those supportive providers that will say, “Hey, why don’t you stay? You’re probably going to get sent home for a little longer.” It’s just so important and it can be vital to the outcome of our birth. 

    Kaitlin: Yes. That’s such an important thing, Meagan, if people are listening and trying to take things away. I think something that we can do often is, “I’m going to listen to this. I’m going to listen to as many birth stories as I can so I can learn exactly the formula. What did she do? What did she do? What is the thing that I have to do?” The thing you have to do is get the information and then trust your gut. Part of being an active participant is research, research, research, then trust your gut. That’s what I always tell people. Do all of that research, but at the end of the day, you’re the only person that can make each of these hundreds and thousands of tiny decisions for yourself. That’s the real formula. 

    Meagan: Yes. 

    Kaitlin: Trusting our instincts, trusting ourselves, trusting our own wisdom in these moments to steer us and guide us forward. 

    Meagan: Yeah and just like each of our bodies is made out of different things and chromosomes and hormones and all of the things, we are made to be the person we are, we have to trust all of those things. Like she said, and create our own formula because her formula is going to be different than mine. She’s not jumping out of a plane. I jumped out of a plane twice because I loved it so much. I had to do it again. 

    Kaitlin: I’m definitely not jumping out of a plane. 

    Meagan: Right, I’m just saying that the formula is going to be different. You have to tune into your own formula and it does start with that intuition, education, and gathering support. 

    Kaitlin: Meagan, you said it earlier too. I know we’re running out of time. 

    Meagan: No, you’re fine. 

    Kaitlin: You can see all of those stats and also do the opposite. You can see that it’s safer to have a C-section and choose a vaginal birth. You can see that vaginal birth is riskier for you and choose that anyway. The evidence is there. The “evidence” is there as part of the decision making but you get to do what feels right for you and your family and your baby and your body and your birth. That is the thing. Evidence is not everything. It’s one of the tools that we have. 

    Meagan: Yes. Mic drop right there. Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for being with us today. I mean, I know that we could talk for hours and hours and hours about all of the things. We probably need to do this again because of that. 

    Kaitlin: I would love that. I love you and everything you’re doing here. Thank you so much for having me. 

    Meagan: Thank you. Can you tell everybody where they can find Be Her Village?

    Kaitlin: Absolutely. Behervillage.com is a great place to start. You can just hit the “Get Started” button. You can create a registry or if you’re a birth worker and you want to get involved with what we’re doing, you can add your services. We have training courses. We have so many great things. You can find us on Instagram and Facebook. Both are @behervillage. I’m in the stories. I’m answering the messages on Instagram so if you want to be in touch, that’s the best way. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. We’ll make sure to drop all of those links in the show notes. So while you’re leaving a review, also go check all of these amazing links out because Be Her Village is incredible, doing amazing things, and is seriously so important. So, so important. Thank you again so much. 

    Kaitlin: Thank you so much, Meagan. Bye, everybody!


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    50m | Apr 10, 2023
  • Episode 229 Nicole's VBAC + Induction

    Nicole joins us today from Canada. She has had an induced Cesarean birth, an induced VBAC, and is now pregnant with her third baby! Nicole shares her journey with IVF before pregnancy as well as what it’s like to have a subglottic stenosis during pregnancy. 

    Meagan gives tips about the best types of induction for VBAC. You can be induced and still confidently achieve your VBAC!

    Additional Links

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello and welcome to The VBAC Link. This is Meagan and we have our friend Nicole with you today. She is from Canada and she has a VBAC story which is awesome. One of the things I wanted to talk about today within her VBAC story and her Cesarean story is induction. Induction is a hot topic, especially in the VBAC world. 

    A lot of providers out there will not induce or they’ll tell people they can’t have a VBAC because of an induction needing to take place or people are scared of induction. I find that a lot of our followers are scared of induction. So at the end, I want to talk a little bit more about induction. 

    Review of the Week

    Meagan: We are going to get into our review so cute Nicole can share her stories. Today’s review is, let’s see if I can get this to pull up. My computer’s slow here. It’s by Rucca the Silly Frenchie. I love that name. Lucathesillyfrenchie. The title is, “An essential resource if you are VBAC hopeful.” It says, “Writing this review from Columbus, Ohio. I’m a VBAC hopeful with my second daughter due on September 4, 2021.” So Rucca the Silly Frenchie if you are still listening, let us know how things went. 

    It says, “After my first daughter was born via Cesarean due to a footling breech position, I knew TOLAC was in my future. This podcast has been beyond educational and inspiring. Be prepared to be addicted to listening to all of the powerful and unique birth stories from strong women around the country. Regardless of what happens with my upcoming labor, I feel empowered knowing I took a more empowered and educated approach with this pregnancy. Thank you, Julie and Meagan.”

    Thank you, Rucca the Silly Frenchie for your review. I would love to know how everything went. If you guys have not had a chance to leave us a review, please drop us one. We love them and we love reading them on this podcast. You can leave them wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

    Hi birth workers, this one’s for you. In an ideal world, VBAC parents would be treated just like other birthing parents. In today’s world, most medical providers sadly don’t fully support VBAC parents. However, 90% of parents with a prior Cesarean are good candidates to attempt a VBAC. This is why we have created the advanced VBAC doula certification program. In this doula course, we share evidence-based data for you to educate your clients, teach you the tools on helping them how to process past fears and trauma or help them decide if VBAC is even right for them. You will feel better prepared to support them during this beautiful experience. All VBAC-certified doulas are listed on our website so parents know who you are. To learn more, go to thevbaclink.com.

    Nicole’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay. Nicole, I am so excited. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day. I know that all of you guys here who have recorded your stories are sacrificing time out of your day to be here to share this amazing content for all of these wonderful, hopeful listeners. 

    Nicole: Thank you for having me. I’ll jump back to before my Cesarean, but this podcast was such a resource for me in planning for my VBAC so I’m happy to be a part of it in a different way. So thanks for having me.

    Meagan: Yes, thank you. 

    Nicole: I’ll start from the very beginning. My husband and I were high school sweethearts. We got married in 2015 so about a year after we got married we decided, “Okay. We’re ready to start trying to have a family.” I stopped taking my birth control pill and literally nothing happened. I wasn’t having any cycles or anything like that. So I went to my family doctor. We started inducing cycles and then going from there just on our own. 

    It turns out that notwithstanding the fact that we were inducing a bleed, I wasn’t actually ovulating at all. So that’s fine. So then we started doing a couple of rounds of letrozole with her just with timed intercourse. We did five rounds of letrosole with that timing with her and then with no luck or success at that point, she referred us out to a fertility clinic where I was diagnosed with classic PCOS and ovulatory PCOS because I don’t ovulate on my own. 

    So we did the first IUI with them. Again, no success with letrozole so that’s fine. We had another one scheduled. After doing all of that, I had stopped responding to the letrozole at the highest dose so then our only option was either superovulation or IVF and it just worked out timing-wise to do IVF and it made more sense to do that. 

    We ended up going through IVF and because I had PCOS, the numbers that we got in terms of eggs were really, really good. We got 41 eggs which is insane. 

    Meagan: Wow, yeah. 

    Nicole: When it was all said and done, we ended up with 10-day five embryos which was really promising so that was good. We had our first transfer, a frozen transfer, in August 2018. It was successful so we were super excited. I had a really good pregnancy. I never felt sick. Aside from the first-trimester fatigue and exhaustion, I felt really, really good. I loved being pregnant. I was one of those annoying people. I never complained about being pregnant. I felt super good. Even at 41 weeks, I wasn’t like, “Oh, get this baby out.” I loved it. It was great. 

    Of course, we did all of the things that you’re supposed to do like taking birth classes and all of those other things. I never had a birth plan per se. The birth plan and goal were just a healthy baby and a healthy mom whatever that looks like. Maybe in hindsight, we should have had something more concrete but I’m not sure it would have changed anything. 

    Fast forward, I was 40 weeks plus 10 days, so 41 and a half weeks, maybe a centimeter dilated. Baby was just holding up shop. 

    Meagan: Very comfortable. 

    Nicole: Yeah, too comfortable, arguably. They decided to induce me and I was totally fine with that. They induced me with Cervadil. It was fine. They put in the Cervadil We stayed there at the hospital for about an hour or so. Everything on the monitors looked fine so this one woman said, “Come back when you have contractions for at least an hour lasting a minute,” or whatever the 4-1-1 is.  

    Meagan: Yeah. Four minutes apart, one minute long, for at least an hour. I want to add in strength because sometimes it can be 4-1-1 and it’s not really strong so we go in a little bit early because we are seeing 4-1-1. Add strength in there if you are taking notes for when to go. Add strength. 

    Nicole: Yeah, so when we left the hospital, it was fine. We went out for lunch and just hung around at home. Other things they told us before we left the hospital was if it feels like baby is not moving, if your mother’s intuition kicks in, to come back and they’ll make sure everything was fine and they’d go from there. 

    It was around suppertime and I started to feel like, “Okay. Maybe baby’s not moving as much as she usually does or maybe I’m just being paranoid.” I said, “Let’s just go in. Let’s double-check just to be safe. I’m not going to get any sleep if I’m worried about her not moving so I’d rather just go in and get it checked.” We went in to get checked a little after supper so in the early evening. That was fine. 

    They hooked us up to the monitors and everything looked okay. I could feel the contractions but I wasn’t really in any pain. I wouldn’t describe it as being painful yet. Baby looked really good and everything so they said, “Okay. You can go home” because I was still, I think, only a centimeter or maybe 2 being generous. They said, “Yeah, go home,” on the same kind of instructions so that’s fine. 

    We went home. A few hours went by at home and now the contractions were quite a bit stronger and quite painful actually. I didn’t want to rush off to the hospital again because we had only just been there two or three hours before that but the contractions were very painful and very long. So I had one of those little contraction counters or whatever on your phone and I wasn’t sure if I was recording them correctly. I was logging them at two minutes but I was like, “That doesn’t sound right. That seems long.” I was like, “I can’t imagine spending the night at home with these feelings like this. I need something for my pain.”

    I actually had my husband call the hospital and say, “Okay. This is what’s going on. If we come in, are we able to give her some pain meds and send her back home?” or send me back home if I’m not dilated enough yet to warrant admitting us. They said, “Well, maybe but you were already here for lack of fetal movement so there would be some hesitation about giving you something for it like morphine for example because then you are really probably not going to be feeling the baby. But come in. We will take a look at you and then go from there.” 

    So okay, that’s fine. We ended up going back to the hospital maybe around midnight or shortly before then. It was quite late. I could barely walk through these contractions. They were so painful. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t imagine it getting any worse but I’d never done this before. Maybe my tolerance for pain isn’t as high as I thought it was or would like to think it is so that’s fine. 

    We got back to labor and delivery. Right from the moment they hooked me back up onto the monitors in the triage room, you could just tell the vibe and the mood were completely different as soon as they looked at the strip. My contractions were lasting anywhere from 2-3 minutes. More than not as I was having 3, 4, 5 of them in a row without any break in between which was then really hard on baby because there was just no amount of time for baby to recover. 

    So before one contraction would basically fully come down, another one would start. 

    Meagan: Wow. 

    Nicole: They were worried that the Cervadil has essentially hyper-stimulated my uterus. 

    Meagan: Yes, that’s what I was going to say. It can do that. Cytotec and Cervadil can hyperstimulate. 

    Nicole: Yep. So the first thing they did was take the Cervadil out. They said, “Okay. We’re just going to give you a little bit and see if things go down.” They didn’t. 

    Meagan: Yes. But even Cervadil is less likely to stay in your body as long because it is removed so that’s a nice thing about Cervadil. 

    Nicole: Yeah. They took it out and it didn’t change anything so then they gave me a dose of, I think it’s called nitroglycerin. It’s a spray. I don’t know if it comes in different forms but essentially it was described as what they can use in an attempt to relax the uterus and stop it from contracting. 

    Meagan: They sprayed in your vagina? 

    Nicole: In my mouth. 

    Meagan: I was like, wow. Okay, in your mouth. Okay. 

    Nicole: I think it’s also used for cardiac patients because it has the same effect on the heart if someone’s heart is having a heart attack or something. 

    Meagan: If it’s too high or something. 

    Nicole: Yeah, don’t quote me on that. I’m certainly not a medical professional but that was my understanding on that. Anyway, so they gave me something like five doses of that. Again, this is at this point a train that had left the station and nothing was working. Throughout this process, they were having me change positions so I’m being asked to go on my side and my hands and knees. I remember at one point, there was so much commotion and moving parts. 

    I’m still having these super intense and painful contractions that they had asked me to move in some way and I said, “Okay, I just need a minute. I just need to catch my breath. I just need a minute.” The nurse very sternly but kindly looked at me and said, “We don’t have a minute. When we ask you to do something, you have to do it. We ask because baby is not doing well.” That’s kind of when despite all of the craziness, I clued in. I was like, “Okay. This is obviously maybe more urgent than I appreciate in the circumstance. 

    So it was intense and scary. They decided that even though I was only 2 centimeters just to admit me because what are they going to do, send me home? They put me in a labor room because, until this point, we had just been in a triage room. Things kept going from bad to worse. At some point, it was decided that they would break my waters so that they could put in the little internal monitor to baby’s head. They did that. I had a few more doses of nitro. Throughout this whole process, I made it very clear, “I am pro-epidural. As soon as you can give me one, I want one. Give me one right now.”

    They said, “Okay, we hear you but technically you aren’t even 3 centimeters dilated yet so you’re not even considered to be in active labor so we can’t give you an epidural yet.” I said, “Okay. Just so you know, I want one as soon as you are willing to give it to me.” I’m not sure how much time actually passed after. They broke my water and looked at the monitor until the call was made, “Okay. It’s time to get baby out.” But I kind of just remember the OB who was on call coming up to me. He was this big, intimidating man. He had such a gentle and soft voice. He said, “Look. Baby is not doing very well. I think we need to go in and get her. She’s not tolerating labor and it’s really important that we get her out as soon as we can.” He’s like, “Unfortunately, that means we are going to put you to sleep.” I was like, “Okay, that’s fine.” 

    As soon as the words left my mouth, it was like, whoosh. A team of people rushed in. Somebody was in my face with a waiver that they were asking me to sign which in the moment, I get. But I was just like, “This is ridiculous.” Someone else was taking off all of my jewelry. My husband was being ushered out of the room. It was madness. We are running down the hall to the operating room which is, in our hospital, literally down the hall. 

    So I’m on the table. They’re doing all of their counts or whatever they do. I’m basically awake and the anesthetist is sitting right by my head. He was complaining about how long everything is taking and how I should already be asleep and how we need to get the baby out which was terrifying. I remember he kept saying to me, “Just close your eyes. Just close your eyes.” I had never had surgery before so laying in this chaotic mess with someone telling me to close my eyes was so unsettling. I just remember being so scared to close my eyes because my husband wasn’t in the room with me.

    Meagan: And they never let him in, right?

    Nicole: They let him in after our daughter was born. 

    Meagan: Being separated, how did that make you feel and being put to sleep?

    Nicole: It was scary. I obviously wasn’t worried about my husband. I didn’t think at the moment about how he must have felt. I’m sure it was scary for him too. It just all happened so fast. There was hardly any time to feel anything other than fear because you almost didn’t have enough time to process any other emotion. But I just remember laying there. You’re strapped to the table naked, having these 10-minute-long contractions. I was almost begging them at this point to put me out because it was so awful. My husband wasn’t there so I was so thankful that there was this one nurse. I just remember hearing her voice come from somewhere behind me. I must have had this terrified look on my face because I had this anesthesiologist saying, “Close your eyes. Close your eyes.” 

    She said, “It’s okay. You can keep them open. Everything’s fine.” It was the only moment of relief or calm that I felt in that entire OR. Everyone was doing their counts. Somebody must have asked where the sponge is for an antiseptic or whatever they use on your belly. The response from across the room was, “Nope. We’re just going to dump and cut.” I was like, “Oh.” All of a sudden, you feel this cold splash come across your midsection. 

    Thankfully, they put me out shortly after that so I could stop listening to these conversations that were happening around me. But it was very scary. It turns out that baby was born a couple of minutes later. When it was all said and done, from the time the call was made that they needed to do the section to when she was born was less than 10 minutes. In my mind, it felt like this eternity but it wasn’t. It was quite quick. 

    They brought my husband into the OR just as they were walking my daughter over to the warmer. He got to see her right away. She was totally fine. Everything was fine with her which was nice. They heated her. She went up to the nursery while they finished the section and were stitching me back up. I woke up a few hours later and they brought my daughter and my husband over to the recovery to see me after. 

    I had a really good recovery in terms of C-sections. 

    Meagan: That’s great. 

    Nicole: Yeah, it was really nice. I don’t actually remember being in any pain after the fact either in the hospital or at home but I did struggle in the weeks that followed bonding with the baby which really took me for a loop. We had spent so much time and emotional energy and money trying to have our family and trying to have a baby. Then here’s this baby in front of me and it sounds awful to say now to feel almost nothing, to feel indifferent. I didn’t have this overwhelming sense of loving joy. 

    I certainly didn’t want any harm or anything or have thoughts of harm that way, but the easiest way for me to describe it is that I felt indifferent. It didn’t really matter if she was crying to me. I didn’t really care if she was there or if I got to hold her or if someone else held her all day. I was indifferent. 

    Meagan: Yeah. I call that a disconnect. You’re just not fully connected. It’s not that you're not recognizing that she’s there or anything, you’re just not feeling that full connection that we hear about. 

    Nicole: Yeah. 

    Meagan: But that’s also really common when you’ve had the type of Cesarean that you had or just Cesarean in general too. It happens in vaginal birth too. 

    Nicole: I thought that was the case at the moment. I did think it was because I really didn’t have a birthing experience. At one moment, I was pregnant. The next moment as far as I was concerned, I woke up and I’m not without anything really connecting the two. That was kind of the struggle emotionally for those first couple of weeks. It kind of resolved itself around 7 or 8 weeks. It’s never been an issue and I’m obviously obsessed with my daughter and I love her. Thinking back on those memories and feelings is hard. Once we got through it, it was good. 

    So that was the birth of our daughter. Shortly after she turned one, we started talking about having another child. We always knew that we wanted more than one. I come from a family of three and my husband comes from a family of four. We always thought that in an ideal world, more than one would be great. 

    We did another frozen transfer in August 2020 which was successful so that was really exciting again. Similar to my previous pregnancy again, I felt really good. I was never sick. I loved being pregnant. Then I found this podcast and I listened to it religiously. I knew that I didn’t want to have an elective section. I really wanted a VBAC. That was the goal in terms of if I didn’t have a birth plan the first time, the birth plan the second time around was a VBAC. 

    I found a doctor who said that she would deliver our baby. She wasn’t delivering babies with our first but she was back delivering them. She said that even if she wasn’t on call that day that she would come just for us to do ours which was really nice. She was super supportive and very much like, “If you need to be induced, we can talk about that.” She wasn’t insistent that I go into labor on my own or by a certain date or whatever the case was. I felt very much in good hands with her. 

    Meagan: Yeah in not putting those restrictions on ever from the get-go. 

    Nicole: Yes. That was really nice. It was such a weight off of my shoulders from the beginning. But it was the fall of 2020 I guess it was that both personally and many people around me noticed that my breathing was really poor. Part of me just chalked it up to being extremely out of shape. I was a new mom. I wasn’t doing as much as I had. But it really hit me when I started noticing that when I would read my daughter her books at her bedtime. You know toddler books. There are five words on every page, but I would have to stop between each page to catch my breath just sitting at rest. 

    Meagan: That’s concerning. 

    Nicole: Yeah. So I thought that maybe there was more to this. We went. Through a series of referrals, we ended up at ENT. He said, “This looks like something but I’m not one that can fix it for you,” so he referred us to a further specialist just in the next practice over. I was diagnosed with what’s called subglottic stenosis. 

    Meagan: I’ve never heard of that. 

    Nicole: In the simplest form, it’s a narrowing of your airway. It’s not scar tissue from my understanding but just normal tissue kind of like an overgrowth of normal tissue that causes this narrowing. It was likely caused by my intubation during my Cesarean. 

    Meagan: During your Cesarean. 

    Nicole: Yep. There was just something about my airway that didn’t like being touched and this was the result. The specialist informed me that it was about a third of the size that it should be and that it would be dangerous to attempt to labor without having a surgery to open it back up. 

    Meagan: Wow. 

    Nicole: That was another hard decision but we decided to go ahead and get that surgery while I was pregnant. I got that surgery. It’s called a dilation where they open it up with a laser and a balloon and all of this stuff. I had that surgery at 24 weeks and it was amazing how much better I could breathe. I didn’t appreciate how bad my breathing was until they fixed it. You don’t realize how much of my day and my time I spent just thinking about breathing so that was really nice. 

    Then we were given the green light to TOLAC and try for a VBAC. The rest of the pregnancy was uneventful. I ended up going overdue again. I was 40 weeks and 7 days, I guess 41 weeks. It was decided that at that point, I would be induced because I was only a centimeter dilated. There were no signs of labor. So, fine. 

    This time obviously though, they said, “Under no circumstances can we use Cervadil,” so we decided that I would be induced with a Foley bulb. We went to the hospital. They put in the Foley bulb that morning. They said, “Okay. Come back when it falls out.” It fell out a couple of hours later that afternoon. We went back to the hospital. I should add that during my pregnancy after my dilation surgery, we had an anesthesia consult to make sure, “Okay, what can we do to avoid another intubation?” It was decided, “When you come into the hospital, we’ll give you an epidural probably earlier than would usually be offered just in an abundance of caution to try to do everything we can to avoid intubating you.” So that was fine. 

    We got to the hospital. They started me on a low dose of Pitocin. Contractions started to look like they were getting longer again and not really following that nice pattern that they like to see. Our nurse started getting a little nervous and concerned and suggested that we call anesthesia to do the epidural which sure. I’m totally on board with. I was proepidural from the very beginning with the both of them. From my perspective, I didn’t need to make my life or job harder than it already was. 

    Anesthesia came in and gave me the epidural. It was great. I felt nothing. Then the contractions actually fell into a really nice pattern after so no one was worried. We hung out for two or three hours at the hospital again contracting. I had no idea. I never felt anything. At one point, I said to my husband, “It feels like I peed a little bit.” He was like, “You have a catheter in.” I was like, “Yeah, but I feel wet.” It turns out that my water broke on its own which was nice but I didn’t have any urge to push or anything like that. 

    They said, “We’ll let you just hang out for a couple of ours. Just let us know if you feel that urge.” That urge never came so they said, “Let’s start pushing anyways because it’s been a little bit since your water broke.” I said, “Okay.” We pushed for about an hour and a half and then at that point again, baby started having some decels and it looked like baby was starting to not tolerate labor that well. 

    Slowly, the vibe became a little more tense. The message started to be, “Okay. It’s time to get this baby out. We have to push this baby out sooner than later.” At some point, the call was made to use the vacuum to help that happen sooner. That was all explained to us and we said, “Okay, sure.” The vacuum was used and then the baby came out two pushes later. 

    When my son was born, I didn’t get to hold him right away. He wasn’t crying. They took him over to the warmer right away. He had no tone. His body was completely limp. He wasn’t crying. He was breathing, but only barely and had the flared nostrils and all of those telltale signs that he was working really, really hard. 

    Meagan: The traction and all of that. 

    Nicole: Yeah, so they had him on the bag and worked on him for about 15 minutes. In that time, he never cried. He never perked up so it was decided that he needed to go off to the NICU to get some extra attention there. 

    My husband went with him to the NICU. I stayed behind. I ended up having a third-degree tear that required some attention. They took me up to the NICU once I was all ready to go a couple of hours later. It turns out that he had a severe meconium aspiration so he actually ended up spending four days on a ventilator and was in the NICU for nine days. 

    Meagan: Was there any sign of meconium when your water broke?

    Nicole: Not when my water broke. Before, I think right before the call was made to use the vacuum, I do remember our doctor saying, “It looks like there is a lot of mec in there,” but there was no mention of it when my water broke. 

    Meagan: So maybe during labor. 

    Nicole: So I’m assuming it was sometime after that but during the labor that it happened. That was a scary experience, but he’s totally fine now. He’s a happy, strong, healthy boy. We just call him as being built to last because nothing phases him. But my VBAC wasn’t necessarily what I had envisioned but ultimately it was really successful and a better emotional experience which is weird to describe because there are a lot of emotions around having a child in the NICU. I didn’t have any issues bonding with him. I felt that connection to care for him right away. 

    If anything, if nothing else, I’m hoping that having that VBAC, it will help what will hopefully be my next VBAC better. I’m actually currently expecting. 

    Meagan: Awesome! Congratulations!

    Nicole: Yep, so we’re hoping that the third time is the charm. Yes, so I’m just shy of 31 weeks. We are due April 1st. 

    Meagan: Really soon! Actually, right when this episode airs you will have a baby. 

    Nicole: This kid is probably going to be late too. 

    Meagan: You’ll either have a baby or just about having a baby. Oh, so fun. 

    Nicole: Or will be preparing for one. My husband and I always joke that getting the babies in and getting them out usually takes quite a bit of work, but baking them is where I thrive. 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Nicole: The plan again, even with everything that happened with my son, the recovery was quite difficult with a third-degree tear, but we’re going for another VBAC. We’re hoping like I said, if anything, my son will help pave the way for hopefully a smoother, less eventful experience. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. Your chances are higher of that. Sometimes that first vaginal birth, even if there is no previous Cesarean, can be a little longer or have things like forceps and vacuum and things like that. It can happen. So hopefully like you said, it will pave the way and be a beautiful redemption. They all have been great but a redemption birth of the two with less drama maybe. 

    Nicole: Less drama. Less excitement. I just want a nice, run-of-the-mill birth. But yes so it will be good. I’m glad that I experienced it. I wouldn’t change it. 

    Meagan: Yeah. You are still happy with the outcomes. 

    Nicole: Yeah. I’m still happy we had the VBAC. Everyone is happy and ultimately, that has always been our thing. Healthy baby, healthy mom. Whatever that looks like, we can deal with but hopefully it looks like a VBAC. 

    Meagan: You’ll have to let us know. Definitely let us know. 

    Nicole: Yeah, I will for sure. 

    Meagan: That’s awesome. I want to talk a little bit about induction. I’ve been taking notes along the way just about things that you’ve said. Right before I get into induction, something that you had said during your first, something that they said to you is that they were just going to dump and cut. You heard that and then you were gone. Those longlasting words, I think it is so important to note to everybody listening especially if you are a provider, that words matter. Words matter. Even though you may not be thinking that something that you say that your patient is going to hold onto, it’s possible that they will. 

    I don’t think that you held onto dump and cut, but I heard that and that is a very scary thing. “We’re just going to dump and cut.” I just want to remind everybody to please be mindful of your words when you are with someone especially in a vulnerable state. 

    But induction. I want to talk about induction. I just want to talk about what ACOG says and going over 40 weeks and stuff like that. Because Nicole is proof that induction can happen and VBAC can happen. An induction can happen and a VBAC can happen with no complications. Sometimes it can’t and we don’t know why. We can’t always blame induction at all, but I don’t want you to be scared of induction. I don’t want you to be so terrified of induction that it consumes you because I know that some of our listeners are in that space especially because they had an induction that spiraled down and went Cesarean. 

    I want to talk about how ACOG concludes that, “Induction of labor between 41 and 7 and 42 and 7 can be considered. 42 weeks to 42 weeks and 7 days is recommended given evidence of increased morbidity and mortality.” Something has changed over time and that is the ARRIVE trial. We have a blog about the ARRIVE trial and we have a blog about induction. We have a blog about going over 40 weeks. 

    Since this has happened, we see a lot more people at 40 weeks and if they haven’t had a baby yet, providers are rushing to get babies out. I just want to let you know that doesn’t have to happen, but if you choose to induce, that’s okay too. Just like Nicole said in the beginning of her induction story, no she didn’t qualify for Cytotec or Cervadil because she is a TOLAC, but she had a great induction with a Foley catheter or a Cook catheter. Depending on where you are at, everyone calls it something different. Those are really great alternatives. You do have to be dilated a little. Sometimes they can give Pitocin a little bit and then give a Foley. 

    But talk with your providers. I encourage you to talk with your providers. I feel like her provider really said, “Okay. Here’s what we should do and this is why.” It worked out in Nicole’s benefit. I want everyone to know that induction doesn’t have to be scary. Right, Nicole?

    Nicole: I don’t think the spiraling with our son had anything to do with the induction. 

    Meagan: It just happened. Sometimes we have babies that have a fast transition or during pushing and meconium is really common too. So yeah. I know people who go into spontaneous labor and have meconium and I know people with meconium aspiration with induction. It just happens. I felt like there are lots of people on here who are living proof that induction is possible but Nicole just said it right here. She’s been induced and she had two very different circumstances with induction. Take it slow. Speak with your providers. Go over all of your options and remember that words matter.


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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    40m | Apr 5, 2023
  • Cesarean Awareness Month #1 Meagan & Julie + The Hospital System

    We are bringing you extra episodes all month long in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month! 

    Meagan and Julie kick off the conversation with a passionate discussion about the realities of birthing in a hospital setting. Doulas are birth workers who uniquely experience births in all settings. Meagan and Julie share what they have seen and how it has formed the strong opinions they have now. 

    Additional Links

    Julie’s Website

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Julie: Welcome, welcome. You are listening to The VBAC Link podcast. This is your cohost for the day, Julie Francom. I’ve missed you guys so much. It’s so fun to be back here but I am also here with Meagan Heaton, the cofounder with me of The VBAC Link. We are so excited to be on a really special episode with you today. We were actually having lunch together the other day and talking about life, birth, and everything. We just decided that it would be better if we recorded the conversation so that’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to record our conversations about birth, VBAC, and everything in between. 

    Review of the Week

    Before we get into it though, Meagan has a review for us. 

    Meagan: Yay, yes I do. It’s always so fun to have you on Julie. I am excited to have our conversation that we were having the other day only recording it because it is definitely a great conversation to be had and to be heard. If you guys didn’t know, April is Cesarean Awareness Month. This month, we’re going to be kicking off with some extra episodes in addition to our stories. Here is number one for you. 

    As Julie said, I do have a review of the week. This is from mathletic and it says, “Empowering and Addicting.” It says, “This may be my second time leaving a review, but it is because I am preparing for my second VBAC and felt that it was necessary. I first found this podcast as I prepped for my VBAC in 2019. I religiously listened to a new episode on the way to and from work daily and am always excited for Wednesday morning’s new episode.” 

    Julie, that is crazy to me that people have been listening since 2019. 

    Julie: Forever. 

    Meagan: It is 2023. It says, “This podcast has given me so much education and strength that I took going into my TOLAC and achieving my successful VBAC in May 2019. I am now preparing for my VBAC as I am 36 weeks pregnant and due in early June.” 

    This was in 2022 by the way so last year.

    “Although I have now had a VBAC, I knew starting my mornings off with this podcast again with this pregnancy would be something that would help me get into the right headspace. I sometimes feel like Meagan and Julie are now my new friends.”

    We are. We are friends with all of you. 

    Julie: We are your friends. 

    Meagan: Yes. “As we commute to work together–” We’ve been commuting to work with her, Julie. 

    Julie: Yeah. 

    Meagan: “I am very bummed to learn that there was a break, but I am so pumped when I found out that they were returning this May.” So yeah, seriously, this was a long time ago, you guys. We returned in 2022. “Thank you for all that you are doing in helping us mamas feel educated and strong as we go into our next births. I recommend this podcast to all my friends even the first-time mom friends as it’s been such a great wealth of knowledge going into any birth.” 

    I could not agree more. This podcast is going to teach you so much and not only how to have a VBAC but how to avoid a Cesarean in the first place. As we know, Julie and I were talking about this, Cesareans are through the roof. It is above 32% here in 2023. It is sad. It’s scary and it’s concerning. It is concerning. Why are we having so many Cesareans? We are going to take one moment and then we are going to get going into this wonderful new episode. 

    Cesarean Awareness Month

    Meagan: Okay, Julie. Hi. I miss you. I love you. I just saw you last week. 

    Julie: It was so great to have lunch with you and just jibber-jabbering away about life, the birth work, getting old, and my salty attitude about birth. We’re going to talk about it.

    Meagan: Your salty attitude. You guys, she has become a little salty and sassy. 

    Julie: I am. I’ve always been that way, but I feel like I was pretty good at toning it down and being diplomatic, especially doing The VBAC Link and things like that. I definitely have opinions as we all do. I was just making sure that we were including everybody and that everybody has a safe space here. We certainly want to do that on this episode as well, but I will hit 100 births this year. Meagan, you are probably at 600. 

    Meagan: No. 

    Julie: But either as a doula or a birth photographer and you know what? One thing that I wish people could understand a little bit more or take more seriously is that doulas and birth photographers probably have the most unique perspective on childbirth because we see births in the hospital, out of the hospital, at birth centers, with hospital OB/GYNS, hospital midwives, out of hospital midwives, and unassisted births. We have seen a few of those. We have such a unique perspective and we see how things unfold in each environment with each intervention and with each provider. 

    I wish that somebody would hone into that and try and work to collect those experiences and perspectives because if you ever want to hear about the state of childbirth in the United States and probably even in the world because a lot of countries are not too different from ours, talk to a freaking birth worker that does hospital and home births because that is where you’re going to find these priceless gems and perspectives that you’re really going to learn from. 

    Yeah. I just wish that people could see that. 

    Meagan: It’s hard because we have clients hire us as their doula or their birth photographer and we talked about this at lunch the other day how we come in and one of the mean things as a birth worker that we are going to do is talk about what birthing experience that person wants. It is important to us as birth workers and as your friends to help you get the best experience that you can get and help you get a lot of those things that you desire. Am I wrong there? That is one of the biggest things. 

    Julie: No, I think that’s right. 

    Meagan: That’s one of the biggest things of what being a doula is. It’s one of the most important things is helping these clients and helping our parents get these births that they want. We come in and we ask things like, “What would you like for your birth? How do you envision your birth? What kind of things do you desire to happen or not happen in your birth?” It’s more often than not a very similar answer. 

    It’s usually things like, “I would like to labor at home as long as possible. I would like to go unmedicated. If not, as long as possible before getting an epidural. I would like to have a vaginal birth and avoid unnecessary interventions.” 

    Julie: Don’t want to be induced. 

    Meagan: “Don’t want to be induced. I want to go into spontaneous labor,” is just what I was going to say so they don’t want to be induced. “I want to avoid a Cesarean.”

    Julie: “I want my water to break on its own.” 

    Meagan: Yep. “I want to avoid a Cesarean. I want to push as my body and myself direct.” 

    Julie: “I don’t want to push on my back.” 

    Meagan; “I don’t want to push on my back.” Things like this. If you’re listening to this episode, I’m assuming you’re shaking your head, “Yep. That’s what I want too. That’s what I want too.” It’s not a bad thing that we want these things. It’s not a bad thing. 

    Julie: It’s a good thing. It’s natural. It’s instinctual. It’s primal. 

    Meagan: Yes. These things are things that we want for a reason. What I hear when I hear these things is, “I want to birth the way my body is going to birth and was made to birth.” Right? 

    Julie: Yep. 

    Meagan: But as birth workers as Julie was talking about, we have this interesting perspective because we’ve seen things. I’m not going to sit and say that I’ve seen all of the scenarios and all the things in birth. I’m not. Again, no I have not been to 600 births but I have been to a lot. I’m still learning as I go but there are so many situations where I can see things unfolding. So we have this client and these people that are wanting this type of birth and then what Julie? 37, 38, 39 weeks. 

    Julie: “Oh, we’d better do an ultrasound to see if your baby’s measuring big or check your fluids My gosh, I hear you complaining so much about being pregnant. Let’s just induce at 39 weeks. You can pick your baby’s birthday. You can do this.” Or all of a sudden, maybe your blood pressure is maybe a little bit high so maybe you have preeclampsia so you have to test that. What does that do? It stresses you out so it makes your blood pressure high even more. 

    Everyone starts to get a little anxious because the due date is approaching. Mom, dad, and parents are getting anxious. Providers are like, “Okay, well we don’t want you to go past this date” Especially with VBAC. Oh my gosh, it’s not safe to go after 40 weeks because that increases your chance of uterine rupture. Not true, by the way. 

    Meagan: Or we’ve got a big baby. 

    Julie: “Or we’ve got a big baby and your last baby was 8.5 pounds so we want to make sure.” All of these are non-evidence-based reasons because people treat 40 weeks like an expiration date rather than an average. That’s when, in a hospital system, things start to happen that decrease your chances of all of those beautiful, perfect, wonderful things that you want in your birth. 

    Meagan: Yes. 

    Julie: Sorry, go ahead. 

    Meagan: No, you’re fine. You’re fine. I was just going to say that this is what we see happen so often. We meet with our clients at 24-34 weeks pregnant and these are their desires. This is what their hearts and their souls are saying. Based on a lot of the time, what they have learned too. They know the evidence-based information so they are like, “Based on that, I don’t want to do these things.” But then 37, 38, 39, 40 weeks come and we have these new introductions and new seeds being planted.

    For some reason, those things leave. They leave our minds. 

    Julie: Well, you’re tired. You’re very pregnant. You’re easily influenced and yes you want to be done. Yes, it sounds nice to be done sooner. Oh no, you don’t want to have a complication or preeclampsia, or a big baby. That sounds scary. Shoulder dystocia sounds really complicated. In some instances, it is for sure, but when you start planting those little seeds, then they grow into self-doubt. It’s easy to confuse our worries and our fears with intuition. 

    Meagan: They’re lost. Yes. Yes. That is the hardest part. We are getting these seeds planted and then they’re being watered. The seeds are growing and the roots are pushing out what our intuition was saying from the beginning. Then we make choices and decisions. We are human beings that have the opportunity to make these choices and decisions, but sometimes we are backed into these corners because our seeds are being poured on. We are being flooded with overwhelming, scary feelings. 

    As a birth worker, it can be frustrating. I’m going to be super honest. Julie must be spitting the salt at me. I don’t know what she’s doing here. It’s so infuriating to see and heartbreaking to see someone we know and loves go into this space that we know is not where they wanted to go and then see the cascade happen when it didn’t need to. 

    The other day, everyone at Zupas was probably like, “Whoa. These two broads are crazy.” We are very animated. 

    Julie: We weren’t very quiet. 

    Meagan: We’re not quiet people first of all and we are animated. I feel like in the past, Julie has been a little bit toned down with her bluntness. She’ll be blunt but I’m over the top and she’s like, “Oh my gosh, Meagan stop.”

    Julie: Now I’m just like, “Heck yeah, girl.” 

    Meagan: So us together, we’re at Zupas saying these things. One of my questions is, and I wish I had the power, knowledge, and time to produce this huge study because I really want to know what happens if we do nothing. What happens? What happens? Julie started adding to that. Do you want to talk about what you added to that?

    Julie: Yeah. 

    Meagan: Do you remember? 

    Julie: Yes. Okay, sorry. My mind is going on 17 different paths right now like it usually does. I think if you really, really, really want to get a good perspective about birth, really sit down and talk to a doula. One that you haven’t hired because I know when my clients hire me, they hire me for my knowledge and my experiences and to support them. I’m not going to say my full, unbiased opinion to a client because I don’t want them to feel like I’m not supportive of them. I am supportive of them. 

    Meagan: Or jading them. We don’t want to jade. 

    Julie: I don’t want them to get doubts about their birth plan going into it because everybody else is planting doubts so I don’t want doubts to come from the doula. But really, sit down and talk to a birth worker because I’ll tell you what. I see way smoother births at home. I see way less need for induction at home. I see more love and support in the birth space at home or a birth center. I see more mother-led pushing, way more mother-led pushing at home. I never ever see anyone birth on their back at home ever. I see more partner involvement. I see kids involved. I see whoever you want at your birth involvement. I see mothers who are satisfied with their birth experiences at home. 

    I see babies healthier and more skin-to-skin time and happier families and happier outcomes at home hands down. Yes. Are there a few here and there where it is hard and they need more help or there is a hospital transfer every now and then? Sure, but I guarantee that you are more likely to have problems and your baby is more likely to have problems in a hospital because it is set up to control things and it’s not set up to trust the mother-baby unit, to trust the parent-baby unit, the birthing person, whatever pronouns you choose to use, insert them here. 

    It’s not set up like that. It’s not your provider’s fault. It’s not your nurse’s fault. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s the system and the way that it’s integrated and taught to these health providers that birth has to look xyz and has to be done by xyz. The baby should be this size. The mother’s xyz has to look like this. It is all set up to facilitate a system that does not trust the parent-baby unit. It does not trust it. At home, it is very well-trusted. It just is. It just is. 

    I don’t want to sugarcoat it. This is maybe where my saltiness comes in but you are way more likely to have that birth experience at home. Yes, it can be done safely. Yes, there are still providers at home that will keep an eye on you and transfer you as soon as you might need any medical assistance because it does save lives. It has. We’ve seen it. We know it, but most of the time, you are— yeah. I’m just going to pause that here for a second and go into where you were trying to lead me here, Meagan. 

    Meagan: You’re just fine. 

    Julie: Sorry. I just have so many opinions clearly. 

    Meagan: It’s passion, Julie. It’s passion. You are passionate because you are seeing things. I am too. I’m seeing things that are unnecessary. They are unnecessary. We will circle back to where I was going, but we will start where you were at. There are so many unnecessary things that are happening in the system that is so frustrating as a birth worker to see because we also have seen the other side. We have seen. Yes, Julie and I personally have experienced the other side. She was at home. I was at a birth center. We have seen it and experience it. The passion that is coming to you through this episode is because we believe. We know as we’ve experienced it ourselves as people who have given birth in a system that is “off” the straight and narrow path as a lot of people will say. 

    When people were hearing that I was going to VBAC after two Cesareans out of the hospital because I kept it quiet from most people. But you know what happened when it happened online. People were attacking me, “How dare you?”

    Julie: People are going to throw salt at us now for this episode. Message me on Instagram @juliefrancombirth. I will engage with you. 

    Meagan: But no. This is passion coming from you. This is your passion in saying, “I have seen other things. I’ve seen other opportunities.” 

    Julie: I’ve seen the other side. 

    Meagan: We know. We know, women of strength. We know that it is not always suitable, comfortable, or appropriate for you to birth outside of the hospital. We know that. We do. We definitely just have seen things outside of the hospital that are incredible. 

    Julie: Way better. They’re way better. They are. Hold on. Let me interject here for just a second. People might say, “Oh, well you’ve only been to a hundred births. Providers do a hundred births a week in a hospital.” Not a hundred births a week. That would be a lot. But significantly more. I am not going to argue that at all. I’ve only been a doula for 8 years, 100 births. That’s 10-12 a year besides having babies in between then as well. Last year, I did almost 30 which was super great. 

    But here’s the thing. When you’re in a hospital, you’re only seeing hospital births. You are only seeing hospital births. You are only seeing, I don’t even know statistics for this, maybe 90-95% of people have an epidural in a hospital? I don’t know. Maybe 70%? I don’t know. I should probably rescind that number. But a lot. And if you don’t have an epidural, guess what you have? You’re hooked up to an IV. You have continuous fetal monitoring. You are in the very system that we’re trying to break away from right now. That is what you see. You don’t see hands-off birth. You don’t see the normal, physiological process that happens when you do nothing. 

    Yes, at home you have intermittent monitoring every 30 minutes. You do the lab work and stuff like that. The routine tests and everything like that is done at home prenatally and during the birth, but what happens? You don’t get to witness that if you work in a hospital in the labor and delivery unit. You don’t get to see that. 

    Meagan: Just a quick search by the way, it’s 65-80% of people receive epidurals and stuff. 

    Julie: Huh, there you go. 

    Meagan: But yeah. They don’t. Their opinions is tainted a little bit. This is why I kind of wish that I had the power to do this study. If there is one and you are listening and you are aware of this study, please let us know. But the study of what happens if we do nothing? We know the ARRIVE trial. We know that if we induce people at 39 weeks, we sort of know what happens. 

    Julie; Do we induce them at 39 or do we induce them at 40 and 5? 

    Meagan: This is the thing. Really, this hasn’t really been done for a long time. We know that ACOG says 42 weeks is the cutoff. We’ve got an increased risk of things like stillbirth and things like that. But okay, so at 42 weeks, we assess. But what happens if, at 38, 39, 40, and 41, we do nothing? What happens if we don’t strip our membranes? What happens if we don’t even perform a cervical exam until 42 weeks? 

    Julie: What happens if we don’t talk about induction? We don’t even talk about it. 

    Meagan: Yes. Don’t talk about induction. So what happens if we do nothing? What does our Cesarean rate do then? I’m really curious. Do we go down? Do we go up? Do we start having more issues? I don’t know. 

    Julie: What does maternal and fetal mortality look like? Because right now, it is a disaster. 

    Meagan: Yes. It just makes me wonder. Cesarean Awareness Month is something that is near and dear to our hearts. We want to bring awareness to it. Cesarean is 32.1% right now. 

    Julie: Yeah. It went up. 2020 and 2021 preliminary data, the Cesarean rates went up. Surprise, because of COVID. 

    Meagan: As a birth worker, what do we know that happened during that time? What did we see? I’ll tell you what I saw. Induction, induction, induction. 

    Julie: People’s support system’s being taken away. They wouldn’t even allow partners there. Guess what else happened? Everybody put masks on. Who feels secure? Some people had to push their baby out wearing a mask. Birth, being a very instinctual and intuitive process, anything that creates that feeling of unsafety or difference or fear will interrupt that process. It will make it less efficient. 

    So when you were taking away people’s partners from the birth room, when you’re making everyone wear a mask in the birth space, when you had a positive COVID test, or if you did not want to do a COVID test, people would come in wearing hazmat suits. 

    Meagan: Even the fear of testing positive and then the threat of everybody being taken away including the baby. 

    Julie: Yeah. All of these things interrupt that process and then yes, people with COVID. I can’t even imagine what it was like in the healthcare system. I cannot even imagine what it was like to be a healthcare worker during COVID and having to deal with all of that also. But then needing to also predict and schedule births to control the number of patients coming in and out of a hospital created this “need” for induction and for causing things to be a little more predictable for everybody. I can understand that to a degree but also, but it introduces the need for other interventions to get the baby here including a Cesarean. 

    Meagan: Right. We’re seeing this stuff happen and it is just so hard because if you’ve been with us for a really long time, you know. You know what we’re for. We’re here to educate on birth after Cesarean. We’re here to educate you on your options for birth. That doesn’t mean you have to have a VBAC either. Right before this call, Julie and I had another call. We were talking about not necessarily advocating for a Cesarean, but we’re also not saying you’re bad for having a Cesarean, right? We’re not pro-Cesarean people. We’re not advocating for unnecessary Cesareans, but at the same time, we’re not shaming anyone or wanting to make you feel bad for choosing that route.

    Julie: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s important to say that. Our intention is not to shame anybody but also there’s a certain point where you’ve got to stop sugarcoating everything. I tell this to my clients too. I’m not going to bounce around the issues with you. I’m going to tell you things. I’m never going to lie to you. I’m never going to say xyz. I’m not going to tell you, “You’re wrong for choosing this,” or whatever because I don’t think anyone is wrong for choosing this but I feel like it’s so easy to get coerced into doing something we normally wouldn’t have done. I feel like it’s so easy to feel safer in a hospital because that’s how we were raised. 

    I feel like some of these things are ingrained so deeply in us that it’s hard to break away from them, but I also am not going to pretend that people’s choices are conducive to their birth preferences. There are just some things that don’t go together. Natural birth in a hospital does not go together very well. It just doesn’t. Not natural, but unmedicated, hands-off birth does not happen well in a hospital. It’s a lot harder and it’s much more of a fight to get that in a hospital versus out of a hospital. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Well and I think too it’s important to talk about creating that space and that environment. If it’s in the hospital, okay. But let’s talk about how to set that up, how to set that space up. We just recently posted about creating a more homey, comfortable environment. We’ll make sure to drop all of it if you guys are interested in checking out these awesome things like getting into your own birthing gown. 

    Going to a hospital, taking off your clothing, and Julie you just talked about this and in a second I want you to bring up what you were talking about with me, but naturally, showing up to a new location with new, strange faces. It’s maybe a little cold. It’s maybe a little foreign. It’s maybe a little staged-looking. Everything is folded up on the bed. Then take off your clothing. What does that do to our body and to our mind? It puts us in an uncomfortable feeling.

    Julie: A little bit of a fight or flight mode. 

    Meagan: We talked about putting on this thing that is open in the back so our butts are showing. So getting into your own gown, into your own soft, cozy, comfortable gown can bring you some comfort even though you are still changing once you’re getting there or maybe you go there in that. Maybe you prepare and you get in that before and you go. Or maybe you don’t like IVs and the bottom of an IV looks yucky. There are IV covers to take it away and make it feel less hospitalized because you are in a hospital. But Julie, talk about what you were saying earlier. I was like, “Huh. I’ve actually never thought of that.”

    Julie: I saw this on Instagram a few days ago. I’d seen it circulating around before. I wish I knew what account it was so I could tell you to go look at it, but I don’t remember. Maybe I saved it. I’ll have to look it up while I’m talking. But it basically said, “What would happen if we conceived babies in the same manner that we deliver them?” In order to get pregnant, okay. We need to preface this with sometimes how people need interventions to get pregnant and sometimes you have to have IVF or other things in order to have a baby. 

    But for most people, what if in order to conceive a baby, instead of being in the comfort of your own home with your partner, or I guess wherever you decide to conceive in a car or a forest or wherever, a movie theater. Anyways, whatever your choice, not my business. What if instead of that, you first went to a hospital, changed into their gown, got your blood pressure taken, got hooked up to an IV just in case you need to have some kind of medication–

    Meagan: Have monitors placed on your belly. 

    Julie: Have monitors placed on your belly, have nurses come in and out and tell you that you can’t get started until the doctor comes in– 

    Meagan: Asking you lots of questions. 

    Julie: Asking you about your insurance, your cycle, when your last period was, and all of these things. I don’t think you’re going to make a baby in that situation. You bring your partner and be like, “Okay, partner. Go get changed now.” Your partner gets changed and everybody’s watching you. Everybody’s watching you. 

    Meagan: You’re on the monitor outside. 

    Julie: I mean, when babies are born, everyone’s watching. Freaking hands are in the vagina and freaking everything. What happens if we conceived babies that way? How would that work? How would that work? Let’s flip this around. Let’s flip this around. What happens if we birth our babies in the same manner that we conceived them?

    We get in our house, movie theater, car, forest, whatever. We go into our home. We turn the lights down. We run a hot bath. We snuggle with our partners. You probably don’t want to have your kids or mother-in-law in your space, but what happens if we created that same environment to increase the flow of our natural hormones, to safeguard and protect that process and make it as intimate as it was when we conceived our babies? 

    Meagan: Yeah. It’s a big question. 

    Julie: It’s way better and I can say that it’s way better because I’ve had my own, but also, I’ve seen over a hundred almost births and I see the contrast. I see the contrast and it’s a beautiful situation when it’s allowed to unfold naturally. Every once in a while, I’ll get a nice unicorn birth that has a nice, unmedicated, parent-led birth in a hospital but it’s very rare. 

    Meagan: I want to talk about that because, with Cesarean Awareness Month, that’s what we do during Cesarean Awareness Month. We talk about things. We do see preventable Cesareans and preventable interventions. Talking about advocating for birth after Cesrean and advocating for yourself, here we are. We go into this space, into the hospital, and we are vulnerable. What do we do? We feel vulnerable because I didn’t go to school for 4+ years. I didn’t study this. I went to the forest and conceived a baby. 

    Julie: Or a movie theater. 

    Meagan: I went in. I have this. I’ve learned. I’ve learned, but now I’m in this space and I’m vulnerable. It’s bright. Like Julie said, it’s this less-ideal space to give birth. We would never conceive there, so why would we give birth there? But if you’re in this space, what do you do? What can you do to create a better space? A better environment? 

    We just had a mama. She wasn’t a VBAC but her video went viral. 

    Julie: Katelyn!

    Meagan: Yep, Katelyn. Maybe actually she might not have been– actually, her episode hasn’t even aired yet but you guys definitely need to check out the video on our social media because it is so incredible. Chills all the way from head to toe. It went viral because she advocated for herself. She had nurses. Bless their heart, we love nurses. By the way, if you’re a nurse, we love nurses. I don’t want to say we hate nurses. But she had nurses following their protocol–

    Julie: Trying to get her on the bed. Getting baby’s blood pressure. 

    Meagan: Trying to get blood pressure. Trying to monitor baby. They tried to get her on the bed and tried to give her a cervical exam, because how would it be if she was 4 centimeters and her midwife was called to come? These things are being told to her. She is pushing out a baby as she’s being questioned for all of this stuff. She’s literally pushing a baby out of her vagina and standing up in this hospital room. That scenario and that story is few and far between because it is hard. It is so hard. You guys, I was a mom in a birthing room the other day at the veterinarian. I had my puppy. We’re sitting there and this doctor is like, “We have to do this. We have to do this. We have to do this.” You guys, I’m a doula. I know how to advocate. Do you want to know what happened? This is a real thing. This really happened. 

    Julie: You have a puppy?

    Meagan: He’s like a puppy. He’s five but he’s like a puppy. My pup. So we’re there and he’s telling me all of these things we have to do. Not only is he telling me what we are having to do, but he’s also doing things to my dog in front of me, then telling the nurse what he’s doing and charging me for these things that I did not ask for. I did not consent to them. I left and I literally paused and thought, “Holy blippity bleep, blah blah blah, bleep.” That is what happens in the birth room way too often. 

    Julie: Yep. 

    Meagan: Women of strength, we do not want this to happen to you. Julie has spit her salt all over and it’s all over me too. We’re feeling it. 

    Julie: Oh, I’m not done. 

    Meagan: We’re feeling it. We’re feeling it. Don’t let these things happen to you. It’s okay to stand up for yourself. It is okay to say, “No, thank you.” It is okay to say, “I hear you. I respect you. I feel differently. I don’t want to do that.” Or maybe at a later date. Or maybe at a later time. 

    Julie: Or just cancel your prenatal appointments. I’m not advocating for that, but I’ve had clients be like, “You know what? I know when I go for my 37-week visit that they’re going to push for this and this so I canceled. I’m not concerned. Everything’s healthy.” 

    Meagan: Yeah, you just don’t have to do anything. I think one of the biggest things and one of the biggest places we can start at avoiding these unnecessary Cesareans– 

    Julie: Is by staying home!

    Meagan: It’s by staying home and advocating. You guys, y’all can tell where Julie is. She’s feeling it here at home birth. 

    Julie: I just see it. Go ahead. You go then I’ll go. 

    Meagan: I’m just saying that it’s okay to stay strong. It’s okay to stand strong and try your hardest not to let your vulnerability because it’s there. You’re so vulnerable in the end. You’re tired. You’re miserable. You’re vulnerable. We just want this baby in our arms. We just want this VBAC more than anything. Don’t let people break your vulnerability, sneak in there, and take advantage of you because there is no need. Obviously, if there is a medical, true medical reason, we understand that. Right? They happen. Like Julie said earlier, we’re grateful. We’re grateful.

    Julie: There’s no shame in that. You should have mercy on yourself if you got railroaded either by the system or by an unexpected emergency. Have mercy on yourself. Give yourself grace because it happens. It’s not okay that it happens if the system is the cause of that, but it doesn’t make you a bad mom. It doesn’t make you a bad human. It doesn’t make you a bad anything. It’s just what happens sometimes. 

    Meagan: Most Cesareans are unplanned because we had no idea what was happening, but a lot of the time these Cesareans are happening because they are sneaking in, these little sneakers. I don’t even know what. I was going to call them weasels. They are weaseling their way in and tapping into our vulnerabilities. I was not the vulnerable one with my second C-section. My husband was and my provider saw it. He snatched it and turned him against me. What did I do? I walked down for a second, unnecessary Cesarean. 

    We don’t want these things to happen to you. We want to bring awareness and maybe you’re like, “Wow. These chicks are coming in strong.” But you guys, we are passionate. We love you. 

    Julie: We want you to have the birth you want. That’s why. Nothing hurts me more than loving someone, knowing what they want, and seeing them get railroaded in a hospital setting. We see it a lot. 

    Meagan: That’s what we see most of these times. 

    Julie: A lot. Especially more as a birth photographer. As a doula, I was more involved in the prenatal prep. Sometimes I show up to births as a birth photographer and I’ve never met the people. They fill out my questionnaire. They hired me. I come in and I’m like, “Hey, I’m Julie. You’re in labor. It’s nice to meet you.” Those are the hardest ones. I’m never going to watch someone suffer. If you’re suffering, I’m going to put my camera down and I’m going to help you. But for first-time parents that didn’t feel the need to do any type of childbirth education or learn anything about the process, you just sit there and watch them get railroaded by the hospital setting. You’re watching trauma unfold and you’re just like, “How is this happening?” But you know how it’s happening because you’ve been watching it for years. I’m talking about myself in the third person or second, or whatever person. 

    But here’s the thing. It breaks our hearts. We see it all the time. We see it in The VBAC Link Community all of the time. So many times, people are like, “My water broke so I went into the hospital. I’m only 0 centimeters dilated. They started Pitocin. It’s at a 10 and I don’t know what to do. I’m not dilating and contractions aren’t coming. Help me.” This could have been stopped if you knew that it’s okay for your water to break without labor starting and to wait at home for 12-24 hours for labor to start on its own and rest, hydrate, and watch for fever or chills or anything like that then go to the hospital. It’s a simple thing to learn but people don’t think that because they trust their system. They’re going to the hospital and getting railroaded. So many times we see that. All of a sudden, you’re water has been broken for however many arbitrary hours your hospital decides is important, and then you get a C-section because all of these things happened. If you would have just known that it’s okay to stay home, and there is evidence of staying home. We’re not just making this up. There is evidence to support this and just takes a little bit of time to learn. 

    But anyways, that’s why I’m sounding really salty today is because I see people get railroaded by the system all of the time. All of the time and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart. I can leave birth and not be super affected by it anymore usually, but these birth experiences are yours. They’re going to affect you for the rest of your life. We don’t only know that. We don’t want you to be railroaded by the system. We want you to know and follow your heart and follow your intuition. If your intuition is telling you, “Unmedicated birth, not pushing on your back, not getting induced, not wanting cervical checks,” then you probably want to birth at home because as soon as you walk out of the door when you are in labor to go to the hospital, your chances of having that birth go down a lot.

    Meagan: Yeah. I mean, studies show that people are much more likely to have interventions in labor and birth as soon as they are admitted in labor, especially in early labor. If we rush to the hospital, but in your mind, you’re like, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be induced. I don’t want interventions,” but the second we start contractions, if we run and go in, our chances of interventions are sky high and the chances of Cesarean are high because we’re pushing these things that are leading to Cesareans. Don’t shame yourself and offer yourself grace if you’ve experienced an unexpected, undesired Cesarean. You are not alone. You are not alone. But know that you have options. Sometimes I want to say to open your mind a little bit. Whether you come back to that openness or not, you come back to that original idea or birthing location, open your mind a little bit and learn the stats. See the stats. Hear the stories. Hear what it can be like.

    I don’t want to take away from anyone who has birthed in the hospital and had a beautiful experience because they can happen and they do happen. They do. But yes. There are a lot of other things that can happen in the home or outside of the hospital that may not lead to interventions and things like that because we’re at home and we’re doing those things. We’re doing more of nothing. We’re not doing a lot of anything. We’re doing nothing. We’re watching. We’re trusting. We’re having faith. It’s so important to understand that your body is capable of doing this. I’ve had some consults lately that broke my heart because people have literally told them they can’t. They won’t. They shouldn’t. 

    Those three words. They can’t have a vaginal birth. They will never have a vaginal birth. I was told that. Right here, I was told that I would not get a baby out of my pelvis. Hello, okay. They shouldn’t and they can’t. Don’t believe that. If you are listening to this podcast, whether you be a first-time mom, a second-time mom, a VBAC, a CBAC, a HBAC, breech. 

    Julie: A breech BAC. 

    Meagan: Whatever your history is, whatever you’re coming from, know that you are capable. You are capable of making these choices. You are capable of doing this. It is totally possible. Totally possible. Yes, we might sound salty today. We might sound aggressive. 

    Julie: We’re passionate. We’re seeing women get hurt by the system. 

    Meagan: It’s really hard, but sometimes, we have to have these hard, raw conversations. 

    Julie: Direct. 

    Meagan: Direct conversations to say, don’t let the system get you. Don’t let it get you. Don’t let it bite you in the butt. It doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t have to be like that. I hate that it even has a label as “the system”. You guys, this is a system. It’s unfortunate that it has come to this. It is unfortunate. I wish that we could all just go back to the farm. Let’s have the farm everywhere. Ina May’s farm. Let’s bring back the farm and just give birth like that. Don’t you think, Julie? Wouldn’t that be lovely?

    Julie: That would be beautiful. I think it’s a double-edged sword because up until the 1940s, 1950s, maybe a little bit earlier than that, probably the 1920s or 30s, most people gave birth at home. You only went to the hospital if there was an emergency or if you were at higher risk. 

    Meagan: And there were some downfalls about birthing back then too. 

    Julie: Right. That’s what I’m getting at because there’s a reason why people transfer to the hospital. In the advent of the 50s, 60s, and the 70s, mostly the 70s, all of these new technological advancements and things like that provided ways that we could save lives that otherwise would have been lost. For that, we are incredibly grateful. We are so grateful. 

    Like we talked about a little bit earlier in the hospital, with that, it has evolved into a system that tries to control the birth process so it’s a trade-off. I feel like an ideal situation would be where everybody births without intervention unless there are true emergencies. We’re not talking about emergencies like, “Oh, I was induced at 39 weeks and my body wasn’t progressing past a 4 and it’s been 48 hours. My baby’s heart rate is starting to go down so now I have to have a Cesarean.” That is a hospital-created, emergent Cesarean. That is a system-created circumstance where a Cesarean became necessary. 

    That happens so much. It happens so much. We have been raised to go to the hospital and have babies. We get induced. My mother-in-law was induced on her due date every single time. She had her babies every time on her due date. She had five kids. Everything went perfectly well. She has no trauma. Who really knows? It’s been a while since those things but she speaks very fondly of her births and that’s okay. That’s good. But now, we are a generation of traumatized women from our birth experiences. You go into a room with four people that have had babies, I guarantee that two of them had a really rough experience. That’s another number I’m just making up. You’re not going to be able to find any resources for this. 

    Meagan: What do they say? Two out of five people have unexpected Cesareans or something like that. Say at a restaurant and have everybody raise their hand that had a Cesarean. That’s the question. Have you ever had a Cesarean? A lot of arms are going to go up. How many of those Cesareans were planned? There are going to be some. 

    Julie: Less than half I would say. 

    Meagan: There are going to be some that stay up, but most of them were unplanned. 

    Julie: I have a cousin that had four Cesareans. The first one was unplanned, the three other ones were scheduled. She says, “It’s the best way to have a baby. You go to the hospital, go to sleep” because she would go under general “then you wake up and have a baby.” She loves it. She speaks very fondly of it. That’s the way that she likes to birth and that’s okay. I don’t want to come off as romanticizing home birth because birthing at home is hard. Sometimes your baby is in a wonky position or sometimes your body might be not quite ready. It’s going to be a longer and harder process. Sometimes emergencies happen and you have to transfer to the hospital. Things like that happen. I don’t want to make it sound like that never happens because it does. 

    I think there are three major home birth studies now that show it’s just the mortality rates for mothers and babies are similar in the hospital and at home, so there is not enough difference to say that one is better than the other, but also, at home, guess what is less? Less postpartum hemorrhage. Less chance of the baby needing resuscitation. Less chances of severe tearing. Less chance that baby is going to the NICU at home. It’s worth considering. It’s worth exploring and my gosh, if you are a 100% hospital birther, I think Meagan touched on this a little bit earlier, we encourage you to check out home birth resources in your area. Just check them out. Just go and talk to a home birth midwife. Ask her what she does in the case of an emergency, what would risk you out of birthing at home, and just talk to them. You don’t have to hire them, but talk to them and see what else is available. See if your intuition jives with that. If your partner is on board with a home birth because it’s going to freak them out, and you feel like it’s something that you want to explore more, it’s time to sit down and have a serious talk with that partner. 

    Do not let your partner or your provider take away the chance of having the birth that you want because they feel uncomfortable about it. 

    Meagan: Yeah, that’s a hard one. That’s a whole other–

    Julie: I know it is because it’s important. You should respect each other’s opinions. You should. You should respect each other’s opinions. You should respect your partner. You should understand where your partner is coming from. You should take their point of view into consideration. You should be able to come to a compromise, but if your partner is not willing to do that for you, then that’s a problem. 

    Meagan: I want to just quickly before we end, plug in some numbers. Look, you guys. Are you so proud of me? Julie, you should be proud of me for talking about numbers. 

    Julie: I am proud of you. 

    Meagan: This is what you usually do. 

    Julie: Before we get into that, I want to say one more thing. I understand that some of the things that we’ve said are probably going to be pretty emotional for some people. Maybe some people have gotten triggered. Maybe some people just hate us now and they’ve already unfollowed us on Instagram, who knows? I say us but probably me too. Probably a lot of VBAC Link people follow me on Instagram as well. Let me try and figure out how I’m going to circle back around and say this. 

    If you have been triggered by this episode, I really, really encourage you to lean into that trigger. Don’t run away from it. Don’t slash The VBAC Link. Don’t unfollow us. Don’t unsubscribe. Don’t trash talk to your midwife buddy about us. I guess you can do all of those things. It’s really your choice. But I encourage you to really lean into that trigger because I wish that we were a society of owning our triggers instead of blaming other people for our triggers. 

    Triggers are our own emotional responses caused by some sort of unresolved trauma or issue in our life. If you lean into that trigger and explore it and figure out why it’s happening and where it’s coming from, you’re going to be able to heal emotionally and become a better human. It’s going to affect your future pregnancies, your future births, and your future interactions with other people. How would it be to not ever feel triggered like that? It would be really cool. I wish that I was never triggered but I also know that when I get triggered, instead of running away from it, I have learned to really lean into it, explore it, figure it out, and resolve that. I encourage you that if something we said has triggered you, then lean into it. Maybe leaning into it is unfollowing The VBAC Link. Who really knows? But I bet you that there is a deeper issue there. 

    I wish or I hope that you would take some of the things that we have said here and consider them. Maybe lean into that too and explore a little bit more some of the things that we are talking about and why we are feeling this way. I also encourage you to talk to a local doula or a birth photographer and ask about their experiences observing home birth and hospital birth. That’s my little parting piece. 

    Meagan: Great, you’re right. A quick plug-in before we talk about these numbers, if you are not aware, The VBAC Link has VBAC-certified doulas all over the world. I’m serious, all over the world. So if you are looking for a VBAC Link doula or if you are looking for someone that’s really educated and knows their stuff about VBAC, knows how to support you, and also to help find a really solid provider and location and help you determine where is best for you, check out our directory at thevbaclink.com/findadoula. Search your area because seriously, these doulas are incredible. 

    Julie and I a long time ago, back in 2018, started–

    Julie: 2018, 5 years coming up. Oh my gosh, in a couple of more months. 

    Meagan: Yeah, back when we got together and started this company, our goal was to help change the VBAC world. We cannot do this alone as individuals, so we have all of these incredible doulas helping us out there. So if you are looking for a VBAC doula, I have to gloat about them because they are amazing. 

    Julie: Really amazing. 

    Meagan: But let’s talk really quickly before you go about success rates. There’s a study that has been done. It was published in 2015 but I believe that it was from 2004-2009 which makes me even wonder now after COVID what it would be because home birth and HBAC have skyrocketed since COVID because a lot of people were, just like we were talking about in the beginning, having their people stripped from them, having to wear a mask, having to deal with the fear of losing their baby if they tested positive and all of these things. 

    But this was a while ago. The success rate was examined. It’s a lower number like 1050 or something like that but the rate of successful HBACs was 87%. 

    Julie: That is pretty amazing. Do you know what I love? That’s higher than APA because APA says that 60-80% of people who attempt a VBAC will be successful. 

    Meagan: Just in general, a VBAC, yes. 

    Julie: That’s general. Hospital, home birth, movie theater birth, whatever. 60-80%. But this at home, did you hear that? 87%. 

    Meagan: At home, 87%. Now, I want to talk about transfer rates. They had an average of 18% transfer rate. 

    Julie: That’s kind of high. 

    Meagan: It is kind of high but I want to talk about that because a lot of people might think of an 18% transfer rate and they automatically go to Joe Rogan’s page and hear, “Oh, what they are saying is so true. All of these terrible things are happening.” You guys, no. Yeah. Did you see it? 

    Julie: No, send me a link.

    Meagan: There’s a video. You’ll have to check it out with Joe Rogan and this lady. I don’t even want to get into it. It was so annoying. I just rolled my eyes the whole time. Anyway, the majority of these people that were transferred, I want to preface. It was not because there was a crazy emergency. It was most common for failure to progress. Failure to progress we know has a lot of things. We know that sometimes failure to progress can be due to cervical scarring or maybe we’ve had really long prodromal labor and things like that. There are a whole bunch of different reasons why but failure to progress and they needed to go to the hospital to then benefit from some of the things that the hospital offers like Pitocin or something like that? 

    But still, only 18% which I know sounds high but still, 87% had a successful VBAC at home, so an HBAC. 

    Julie: Okay, so I also want to say two things. First of all, the study might have had certain protocols to follow for a transfer. That might have caused the transfer before it was necessary. I don’t know. I haven’t seen this study. But also, the second thing is that I heard somewhere, and it might be different with study protocols, but I heard somewhere and I feel like my circumstances support that most hospital transfers are due to maternal exhaustion. They are so tired. They have labored for so long but I don’t have a number to back that up. But that’s interesting that that study shows that. That’s really cool. 

    Meagan: Yeah. There are things. We know that women at home can sometimes lack resources, but you can also talk to your provider if you’re birthing at home and talk about, “Hey if I’m not progressing, what kind of things can we do to help progress?” Sometimes that’s processing and sometimes that’s nipple stimulation. Sometimes that’s getting everyone out of a room, turning off the lights, and taking a nap. There are so many things that go into it but it’s a pretty small study relatively. But still, wow. It does represent something. It represents something and we can’t ignore it. 

    But anyway, we are pro-choice. We are pro everybody making the best choice for them but we do. 

    Julie: We’re also pro-not watching the system railroad people. 

    Meagan: I was going to say that we do see so many things that are so avoidable. I’ve had clients in the past years. One client probably two years ago, she was 38 and 5 I want to say. I’d have to go back and look at my notes and the provider was like, “I don’t know. You look big. It looks like this baby is measuring big. It could be anywhere from 8-10 pounds. We should probably induce. I will totally support this VBAC but let’s induce.” The cervix wasn’t doing much. It just wasn’t an ideal spot to be walking in for an induction and they required breaking water. They wouldn’t put Pitocin in. When the water was broken, they needed Pitocin after that which is interesting. 

    She got up to a 1 and started Pitocin, had an IUPC placed, an FSC placed, and all of these things. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and it was just so hard because you guys, I adore this person. I adore this person but it was so hard to see these things and see the path that it was going down knowing that the end result was likely coming to a repeat Cesarean when that’s not what she was wanting. It was so hard texting my doula community, my resource group that we all have as birth workers saying, “You guys, pray. Pray. Pray that this is just one of those miracles because it’s one of those situations that we see too often.” It did. It ended in a repeat Cesarean. It was healing. It wasn’t an emergency. She did heal from it, but it didn’t need to happen. 

    I can’t say that for a guarantee. I can’t say something wasn’t going to happen, but it didn’t need to happen that way. So women of strength, here we are. We love you. We know that you are in a hard situation. We’ve been there. We’ve been there. Julie’s been told by providers in the hospital that she would rupture. I was told that I would rupture. No. You were told that your baby would die. 

    Julie: Me and my baby would die. 

    Meagan: Yes. We were told these really scary things. Do we hate the hospital? No. Do we hate it? No. Do we hate what we see in it? Yes. 

    Julie: Yeah, a lot of time. 

    Meagan: We hate it. We hate what we see. I mean, not always. I can’t say that we always hate what we say but so many times we hate seeing things that are just avoidable. So here we are. Know that we’re here. We’ve got our course. We’ve got the blog. We’ve got this podcast. We’ve got our private Facebook community. We have Instagram. We have so many resources filled with evidence-based information. 

    If you are wanting to up your VBAC game and learn the history of VBAC, learn about Cesarean, the history of Cesarean, learn about VBAC, learn how to find the right provider, learn how to tap into where you want to birth, and really tune into that, this course is going to help you walk through that path. Whether or not you choose a Cesarean, you choose a VBAC, you choose an induction, you choose home birth, hospital birth, midwife, OB, unmedicated, medicated, whatever it may be, we are here to support you but it is so important to us that you find that information that you are filled with the evidence-based information ready to take on the birth and have the birth experience. 

    So if you want to learn more about all of these resources, check the show notes. They are all going to be listed. Go to thevbaclink.com and click around you guys. You’re going to get lost in there because there is a lot. There is a lot of incredible information. But yeah. Julie, anything you want to add before we let the listeners go? 

    Julie: I do. I do have something we want to add. Listen. Me and Meagan want to do a birth together, a VBAC. Maybe at home, maybe at a hospital but if you are in Utah, Salt Lake or Utah County, Weber, Davis, Tooele, Park City, and any of those areas, reach out because we have a special bundle discount that we will give to you if you hire Meagan as your doula and me as your birth photographer. 

    Meagan: Yes. We’ve done a birth together as doulas switching up. We’ve never done a birth as a birth photographer and a doula. Julie really wants us to work together. 

    Julie: I do. We will be a package deal. We will take some money off of our services for you so that we can have that experience and then you get both of us at your birth which is a total win. 

    Meagan: That would be really fun. It would be really, really fun. Okay, listeners, we love you. We love you so much. Happy Cesarean Awareness Month. It’s April. We’re going to be posting those stats and all of the things this month so stay tuned. If you have not followed us on Instagram or Facebook, check us out at @thevbaclink. You can find us anywhere and we are so grateful that you are here. Hopefully, after today’s episode, you’re not unfollowing us on all of this. We love you. We just have to say that. 

    Julie: And you can follow me @juliefrancombirth.

    Meagan: Yes. You can follow Julie at @juliefrancombirth.

    Julie: Bye! 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
    1h 9m | Apr 3, 2023
  • Episode 228 Lindsey's HBAC + Paternal Postpartum Depression

    “It’s a dream. I am so thankful and just hope I can return the favor to the community because you all have been such a gift in my life. If I can give anything back, I hope that my story helps people.”

    Lindsey’s episode has SO much to offer! From listening to over 200 VBAC Link birth stories and extensive evidence-based research, and now fresh off of her own HBAC, Lindsey shares her list of helpful VBAC tips. 

    As an active duty Air Force servicemember, Lindsey also shares tips on finding birth support during a military PCS as well as getting a referral to birth outside of the hospital under military insurance. 

    Finally, Lindsey shares her husband’s journey with paternal postpartum anxiety and an update on how his anxiety levels are now– three months after her HBAC.

    Lindsey’s stories are just as impressive as she is and we are so honored to have her on the podcast today! 

    Additional Links

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, you guys. Welcome to The VBAC Link Podcast. We have a story coming to you today from Maryland. We have a mama. Her name is Lindsey and she married her high school sweetheart which I think is so fun. So fun. They have two boys, right?

    Lindsey: Yes. 

    Meagan: Pretty fresh postpartum. Three months out. 

    Lindsey: Pretty fresh. 

    Meagan: Pretty cool. Your husband is a stay-at-home dad and you are on active duty Air Force and work as a dentist. How? You are a powerhouse. That is awesome. 

    Lindsey: Thank you. 

    Meagan: You are doing a residency and you have lived all over the country and seen so many things and you’ve had a VBAC. 

    Lindsey: I can’t wait to share. 

    Meagan: Yes, I can’t wait to get into this story. You guys, one of the things we are also going to be talking about today is something that I actually don’t know if we’ve ever talked about on the podcast but it is something that I feel like I saw in my husband when I was going to VBAC for the first time with my second birth. 

    I saw what happened and he shut out, so we want to talk about paternal postpartum anxiety a little bit today because it’s something that we don’t focus on highly. We are focused on the mom giving birth and the experience that they have had, but it’s so important not to forget about our significant others or our birth partners, or anybody there that was in the space and witnessed birth. I’m excited to be talking in just a minute with Lindsey about paternal postpartum. 

    So if you have a significant other that may have had a traumatic experience, definitely listen up. It’s going to be great and then also sometimes, I think just hearing these stories and hearing maybe some of the characteristics and things that are happening, it might help you know. I didn’t know until he had said things when I was preparing for my vaginal birth after two Cesareans, he was saying things and I was like, “Okay. You are not okay completely. That triggered you and let’s talk about it.” So I’m really, really excited. 

    Review of the Week

    Of course, though, we have a review of the week and this is a long one. I would always make Julie read the long reviews because I swear I can’t read and hear myself at the same time. I just get mixed up so we’ll see how this goes.

    Lindsey: You’ve got this. 

    Meagan: This is from likap8 so thank you. It says, “I did it. I have my VBAC.” It says, “Hello, ladies. I was waiting to write this review since I was pregnant and tell you thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I knew I was going to achieve a VBAC thanks to the knowledge you provide. When I was 12 weeks pregnant, my doula team recommended it to me and I immediately felt really empowered by listening to every single story. I finally had something real from real women telling me that VBACs are possible, that I just needed to educate myself and do everything in my hands to make it happen, and that’s what I did.”

    “I hired a doula team. I went to the chiropractor. I did Spinning Babies. I followed doulas on Instagram that tell you what exercise you must do to prepare for labor. I did Hypnobirthing. I submerged myself in everything about natural birth and I trained my body and my mind for this big day. I had my VBAC on March 15, 2022” which is almost a year ago. Actually when this comes out, it will be over a year ago. It says, “and it was the most healing experience. I did it thanks to you all and people like you to help women like me have our dream birth.”

    Wow. That was incredible. Such an amazing review. Thank you so much. We are always smiling when we see these reviews come in on Apple Podcasts or Google. Sometimes like I’ve said in the past, we’ll just get an email that says, “Hey, I just want to quickly write a review.” So if you have a review for us, please shoot it over. We would love to read it on the next podcast. 

    Lindsey’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Lindsey. Are you ready? 

    Lindsey: I’m ready. I’m excited. 

    Meagan: I’m so ready. Thank you so much. I’d absolutely love to turn the time over to you and share all your wealth of knowledge and your experience that these listeners are definitely going to benefit from.

    Lindsey: Thank you so much for having me. This is a moment that I daydreamed so many times when I was walking with my son, well, when I was pregnant with him and when I drove. At one point, I was driving to a provider in Virginia and I would listen to it on the drive. I was like, “Maybe one day I can be on the show.” 

    Meagan: And here you are. Three months postpartum. 

    Lindsey: Oh my gosh. It’s a dream. I am so thankful and just hope I can return the favor to the community because like your review said, you all have been such a gift in my life. So if I can give anything back, I hope that my story helps people. 

    Meagan: Awesome. 

    Lindsey: Yeah. So I first learned about The VBAC Link actually right after I had my Cesarean. It was a week after my Cesarean. I searched #vbac on Instagram and you guys popped up. I started following it and tucked it in the back of my mind because I had heard about a VBAC and I knew that I wanted to try for that. I didn’t start listening to the podcasts until I was 24 weeks pregnant. My family and I had just done another military move. We moved from Kansas to Maryland and I was pretty overwhelmed by starting over again. 

    The moves have been pretty good, but when you start adding kids to the mix, it makes it a little harder. I felt like I didn’t have a community and I was starting this intense training program and feeling kind of lonely. I felt like I didn’t have the time or mental capacity to learn everything I should learn to have a good VBAC, so the podcast was such a gift because it packaged it into a reasonable amount of time that I could do when I was multitasking and then provide evidence-based information and hear a powerful story. It was just everything that I needed, so I learned so much from you all. I’m so thankful. 

    My Cesarean story, to start out, I wanted an unmedicated birth with my first son. We hired a doula. We found the only midwife in the town where we were living in Kansas who covered our military insurance. The base I was at didn’t have OB care so we got an automatic referral. I kept a really active pregnancy. I even did cardio kickboxing up until the day before my water broke. 

    Meagan: Cool. That’s awesome. 

    Lindsey: I was like, “Yeah, I’ve got this.” 

    But a couple of things looking back on my pregnancy, I did have a brand new midwife. She said I would probably be the first birth that she attended which is fine. 

    Meagan: Yeah, you’ve got to start somewhere. You’ve got to start somewhere. 

    Lindsey: Yeah, but the way that it worked in the city where I was living in Kansas, she was not on her own. She was actually part of an OB practice. She couldn’t be on her own so that practice, I found out later, had the highest Cesarean rate in town. I didn’t know that at the time. She also gave me the recommendation to start using primrose oil vaginally at 38 weeks and I didn’t know that that was an induction method. I found that out on your podcast. She said that it would prevent tearing so I was like, “Oh.” I found out things later. Things I didn’t ask about. I didn’t know to ask about them. 

    My water started leaking at 40 weeks and 1 day. I woke up at 3:00 AM. It was just a trickle and mild contractions. I went back to bed and called the midwife on call at 6:00 AM. She was like, “Well, you have an appointment today at 8:00 so you can wait for that.” At 8:00, she checked and my waters had ruptured. She left the room to talk to the OB and then when she came back, she was like, “You know, let’s have you eat some breakfast and then have you come start Pitocin.” 

    The hospital had a birthing center across the street from the hospital so you weren’t actually at the hospital but they were prepared if something went south. You could have a Cesarean there too, but not really meant for it. So then I arrived to the birthing center, or a birthing suite, and they didn’t have a cordless monitor so they put me on a monitor that had the cord. I remember being really disappointed because I was like, “I want to walk around,” but it was really limited with that. 

    They started Pitocin and really an hour later, I was having a hard time handling them. The contractions were really hard and really fast. We called my doula and she came. I remember my midwife saying, “Don’t scream.” I said, “Okay, well I don’t know what to do. I’m trying not to scream.” I labored with Pitocin for seven hours and got to 6. My midwife then had me stop Pitocin and labor on my own for three hours. I remember sitting in the bath and not wanting to get out. I was like, “I don’t want to get out of this bath.” I wasn’t really feeling any contractions at this time. I did have the labor shakes and I remember asking why. No one really answered me why I was having the shakes. 

    I found out on your show later, one episode, and I was like, “Oh, that’s normal. I didn’t know that it was normal.” 

    Meagan: So was the water helping you contraction-wise? You weren’t really feeling them or did it just stop?

    Lindsey: Unfortunately, she checked me and I was still at a 6 three hours later. 

    Meagan: So when they turned Pitocin off, your body wasn’t quite in that active phase on its own. 

    Lindsey: Okay. 

    Meagan: Okay. That’s when I was like, “Hmm.”

    Lindsey: I know. She put me back on Pitocin and I said, “If you’re going to do that, you’re going to have to give me an epidural,” because my body had just calmed down from not having it for three hours. The epidural worked so well. I was numb all the way up my chest. 

    Meagan: Oh wow. 

    Lindsey: I know. I remember asking, “Can we turn this down?” They never turned it down because it never felt less than that. Then seven or eight hours later was when I made it to a 10 and I had got some rest. They said, “Okay, time to push.” Again, I couldn’t feel anything. They showed me how to do it. They said, “You’re doing it.” After two hours of pushing, my midwife went in and manually tried to turn my son because she said that he was in a weird position. When she did, his heart rate deceled. 

    She told my husband, “Go pull the cord.” He pulled the cord. Eight people flooded in the room and then I heard, “Turn her on my side,” then I was like, “Oh.” So I turned myself on my side and my midwife apologized actually to me afterward. She was like, “I didn’t mean for you to turn you on your side,” but I was just like, I don’t know if it’s because I’m in the military and I heard something so I was like, “I’ve got to do it.” But we laughed about it. It was something to laugh about. 

    After another hour of pushing, so three hours total, she asked the hospitalist who was working to come in and the hospitalist did a pelvic evaluation. She determined she couldn’t get forceps around my son. He was asynclitic and at that point, she said that she recommended a Cesarean. I learned that it’s an unplanned Cesarean, not an emergency Cesarean, but still, it felt emergent and it felt unplanned. It felt very unplanned. 

    Meagan: Yeah. That’s one of the hardest things for me as a doula, as a mom who has had them, to decipher what is emergent because they treat it as it is an emergency and we are feeling that feeling so we think that we had these emergent situations. 

    Lindsey: Yes. You definitely feel it. 

    Meagan: I’m not saying there aren’t. There are definite emergent situations, but sometimes, we label them as emergencies and they’re not but the way that everybody is making it seem feels that way. 

    Lindsey: Yes, and the tension was definitely in the room. I mean, even when I was in labor and pushing. 

    Meagan: Was he doing okay? I know he had the decels a little bit, but was he doing okay now? 

    Lindsey: Yeah. Oh yeah. He was stable at that point when they brought me back which was good. So he had had the decels. 

    Then I consented and thirty minutes later, they pulled my son out. He was crying and I cried and felt that instant love that you feel for your baby like you’d do anything for them and it was very special, but I definitely felt really excited and then also really robbed of the birth that I wanted at the same time so it was kind of weird to feel both things at once. 

    Meagan: But that’s okay. That’s okay. 

    Lindsey: It is okay. What was encouraging though was like, “Man, I labored for nothing.” 20-something hours of labor, but all of those hormones, the midwife did say, “You know all of the hormones you had released are really good for the baby too,” so I was like, “Okay if it worked for something.” 

    So then about 4-5 hours after my son was born, they left us alone for a little bit. They still came and checked on us. I woke up and my husband was pacing the room. I asked him, “What’s going on?” He said that he was shaking. I could see that he was shaking and his heart rate was racing. He was really emotional. I told him, “I think you’re having a panic attack.” We were married for almost ten years before we had kids, then we were together for five years before that so we’d been together for a long time and I’d never seen him go through anything like that before. 

    I was like, “Oh my gosh, just come,” and I had him lay in the hospital bed with me until he stopped shaking. Yeah, so that was our experience at the hospital, and then we got home and I remember we ordered pizza and he couldn’t eat it at home after the hospital. He couldn’t eat anything for a few days after we were home. He barely was eating anything. He couldn’t be in the same room with our son when he was crying. He felt like another panic attack would come on, then couldn’t be in the room when we were sleeping at night. 

    I remember feeling so concerned that he would never be the same again. We would never want any more children. He is my best friend, so it was like, “Oh my gosh. Who do I talk to about this? What do we do?” We actually ended up, he talked to one of the pastors at our church and worked through that. We were like, “Okay. This is a hard moment. We’re working through it.” Evenings were the worst at the time. When the sun started to go down, that’s when we would try to connect together and talk about what he was feeling and going through. We would pray and we would watch Gilmore Girls which is our favorite show. 

    It seemed like things were slowly getting better, but then five months later, my husband was watching our son and I had already gone back to work after 12 weeks and then he was also watching our friend’s baby who is a little bit younger than our son and the baby started crying and he had a panic attack. 

    He called me and I was working across the street. Our base was across the street from where our friends lived. Thankfully that day, a skunk had gotten into the ventilation system at work. 

    Meagan: Oh gross. 

    Lindsey: We were all being evacuated at that moment. They called it a natural disaster. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh, that’s a natural disaster. That is. 

    Lindsey: It was $80,000 worth of work to fix it in the end. It was nuts. I was literally leaving my desk at that moment to go home. I said, “I’ll be right there.” So I was there and had him go walk it off. I had heard of a therapy group in town from a friend and got the information. He started therapy pretty soon after. I think it was in that week. He ended up going for the rest of the time we were in Kansas which was I guess a year and a half that he went. 

    It made a huge difference, a huge huge difference. I am really thankful for that. 

    Meagan: Did he feel that the birth itself was what brought everything on? Was that a trigger?

    Lindsey: Great question. That’s what we’re thinking is that it was all of the heightened emotions from me being in labor and that not going well, then all of a sudden we were in a Cesarean. The pulling of the cord was something that really stood out in his mind, like, “Oh my gosh. This is a serious thing.” Just that fight or flight reflex was on for that whole time. 

    Meagan: He was the one that pulled the cord, right? He was the one that was told to go pull the cord. 

    Lindsey: He was the one that pulled the cord, exactly. 

    Meagan: Which if you think about it, when someone tells you to go pull the cord when you know that’s an emergent, really scary, someone-could-be-dying cord, you can imagine where his mind went. 

    Lindsey: Exactly, exactly. He brings up this story when they brought me in for the Cesarean, they had me on the– I don’t really remember because they had given me medicine at that point, but he said that I was on a table naked. No curtains were up. They were rubbing iodine on me or something and he was like, “Oh my gosh. Are they not going to put a curtain up? I’m just going to see my wife being sliced open?” They had my arms tied down. 

    Meagan: Scary. 

    Lindsey: Scary, yeah. He’s not a medical person at all. I’m a dentist and he doesn’t do the blood thing. He said, “No, that’s not for me.” I’m going to bounce back and forth between what he went through and then jump back into the story too. 

    I had a lot of questions about my Cesarean mainly about how did I go from wanting an unmedicated birth to having a Cesarean? I remember asking my midwife at my six-week postpartum because I had done some reading on Evidence Based Birth, the website of how you can wait after PROM so many hours before you start Pitocin. I asked her, “Why did we start so quickly?” It was six hours after I had PROM that we started Pitocin. 

    She said in a hushed voice– no one was in the room with us, but she kept her voice really low. She said, “Oh, it was the OBs that I’m working under.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” I don’t know. I was disappointed that I had a Cesarean, but in the state of weakness, it really taught me to rely on faith and it also set me on a path to really deep-dive into the world of birth education. I’m no expert by any means, but I learned so much compared to where I was at the first time. 

    Flashing forward to January 2022, we were celebrating my son’s first birthday and I found out I was pregnant. I was nervous and excited. We were going to be getting orders from Kansas to Maryland, so we will flash forward to Maryland. We moved when I was 24 weeks pregnant. My doula, Lauren, came as a recommendation from a friend in the area who lives in Virginia. Lauren, the doula, suggested a practice that was VBAC-friendly. 

    At this point, I am working at a military installation, so they expected me to give birth there, but long story short, I was able to get a referral, so if anyone is on active duty listening to this, hang in there. It’s hard. Sometimes you can’t get a referral. But I was able to get one thankfully and the practice in Virginia was an hour away so I would drive to the appointments. They were nice, but I didn’t see anyone consistently. I did move later on in my pregnancy, so it was hard to see every person because there were so many people that worked there. 

    I did have one experience before I decided to ultimately change to home birth. When I was 30 weeks pregnant, I was feeling menstrual-like cramps and it really concerned me because I know that could be a sign of labor contractions. They didn’t go away, so I called. It was a Saturday. I called the OB on call and she said, “Well, why don’t you ahead and come to the hospital? I’m working here. We’ll put you on some monitors and check.” 

    So I drove and I remember driving by myself and again, feeling really lonely because I was there by myself. My husband was with our son. It was late in the evening. His bedtime would have been soon. I called my doula and she offered to come with me because she’s awesome, but I was like, “No, it’s okay. I’ll just call and check up.” When I got to the hospital, I got checked in. I was crying and the nurse was like, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on?” She was really sweet. 

    But the OB popped her head in, looked, and she said something quickly, and walked away. Then I never saw her again. She had the midwife come in and talk to me. The midwife said, “Everything looks good. No contractions. You’re probably dehydrated. Let’s get you some fluids.” She asked to do a cervical check. We did a cervical check. I was at a 1, but she said that most women who have either given vaginal birth or have dilated to a 10 walk around at a 1 at any time. I was like, “Okay.”

    Meagan: Or more. 1 or more. 

    Lindsey: I’m sure. I’m sure. She walked away and went to talk to the OB. She came back and said, “Okay, so OB would like you to start some steroids for the baby in case you go into labor.” I was like, “Wait, you just said that I’m fine.” 

    Meagan: I’m not in labor, yeah. 

    Lindsey: Right. I felt really conflicted. I wanted the best for my child. I was confused because I didn’t have any other signs of being in labor. There was a woman who was– it was the triage room so it’s just curtains. I heard a woman who was the same gestational age as me and she was at a 5 and in labor, so they were like, “Okay, we’re going to do this intervention and this intervention.” I thought in my mind, “That makes sense. This woman is in labor. I am not.” I felt really disappointed that the OB didn’t come and look me in the eye or talk to me, put her hand on my shoulder, find out that, “Hey, you just moved to a new area. You’re stressed out. Stress could make this happen,” which I found out later. 

    So I ultimately ended up declining and had a very healthy pregnancy. It was just that one time that I had that happen for about a week and everything was okay. He actually came a week past my due date, or eight days past my due date so no worries about being early. 

    That’s something and I’ll touch on this later too, as a provider, it’s so important to connect with your patient and in my specialty that I’m getting into, we talk about, “Listen to your patients. They’ll tell you what’s going on.” It’s not that we have to stand over them and make a clinical decision, it’s like, “Look at them. Hear what they have to say. They will tell you what the problem is even if they don’t know what it is. Their story will tell you.” So it’s so important that they do that. Find a provider that’s willing to listen. 

    So then at 35 weeks, I was actually listening to an episode of The VBAC Link on my lunch break and I texted my doula. I said, “You know, if I have a third child while we’re living here, I really think I’ll do a home birth.” She said to me, “It’s never too late” –I wrote it down– “to follow your gut and find the perfect birth team. I was like, “That’s nice to say that but that is way too stressful to try to figure out a home birth at 35 weeks pregnant, get a new referral from the military,” and I said, “I’ll look into it,” but it seemed really overwhelming. She was really encouraging. 

    Meagan: Very daunting. 

    Lindsey: Very daunting. She said that she would support me either way, but she did send me the names of a few midwives in the area. I ended up calling three and one had openings around my due date. I felt really connected to her right away. She put my mind at ease and she had worked with a lot of military families so she knew about my insurance. She actually has delivered over 2000 babies at this point, so tons of experience which was really nice to have.

    Meagan: Kind of the opposite end of things. 

    Lindsey: The opposite end of things, yeah. We told her we would get back to her. I went home and presented it to Zach because I did all of this in one day. I just ended up having an extended lunch break and called then went back to my residency, then called more. I told my husband about it and he was like, “What?” At that time, we were doing a birth education class with our doula, so we were watching some of the videos that she sent us then we watched a video of the hospital room. He couldn’t finish the video of the hospital room. 

    I was like, “Babe if you can’t finish the video of the hospital room, how do you think it’s going to go if we get in there?” So we thought about it that day and prayed about it, then the next morning, he was like, “Yeah. Let’s do it.” I was like, “Okay. Now I need to think a little bit more,” so I took the rest of the week to think about it. We ultimately decided to do it. 

    I remember my first prenatal appointment with her was a few days after that and she spent over an hour with me. I kept looking at the time and I was like, “She’s got to go. She’s got other patients and I feel guilty.” It was weird. I felt this guilt of, “I’m taking up too much time from her.

    Then I could tell by her demeanor though, she was in no rush to leave at all. Even when she walked out the door, she was just like, “Okay, yeah.”

    So with that being said, her appointments were kind of a time range like, “I’ll be there around 2:00.” Sometimes it was later. Sometimes it was a little bit earlier so we had flexibility with our prenatal appointments. They were all at our home. 

    Meagan: Which is awesome. 

    Lindsey: Yeah, it was so nice. My HBAC story, at 8:00 PM, I had a few painful contractions the night before my son was born. I texted my doula and she recommended doing the Miles Circuit. Then I texted my midwife and she recommended I have a glass of wine or some Benadryl and go to sleep. I didn’t because, at the time, I was like, “Alcohol interrupts your sleep cycle. I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t.” 

    But I probably should have done some Benadryl or something because after I gave birth, I was talking to her about it and she said, because I had these irregular– maybe someone will connect with this– but I had these irregular contractions all night and I was so tired. She said, “Having some Benadryl probably would have helped you sleep and stopped the irregular contractions. I’m like, “Okay. The next time that happens, I will take Benadryl.” 

    But I go into the shower an hour later and that really helped to labor in the shower, just the hot water hitting my back. I was on my hands and knees and I really wanted to let my husband sleep because, in the back of my mind, I was thinking of what happened our first time. I just didn’t want that to happen again to him and to us. 

    But I didn’t feel like, “Oh, I just have to do this because I have to be strong for the two of us.” It felt like, “Okay, we’re a team. I’m able to do it myself right now and then at some point, I’ll need him to tap in, but I can do it now.” As much as you enjoy labor, I was like, “Okay, I can do this on my own,” so it was kind of a good time to just be with myself and my baby and think about what was ahead. 

    Zach did bring me a birth ball around 10:00 PM and I used that. At 11:00 PM, I tried to get some sleep. I couldn’t get comfortable. I took a nap in between contractions, but they kept waking me up. Then until basically 4:00 AM, they were 5-20 minutes apart so I would try to sleep on the floor but every time a contraction hit, I had to move and get up on my hands and knees. I felt like I just couldn’t stay still during the contraction. 

    At 4:00 AM, I was like, “Okay, I need Zach. I need some help.” He worked with me from 4:00-5:00 and did hip squeezes. He was super sweet and encouraging. Then we called my doula at 5:00 and she arrived around 5:30. She was like, “Okay, where are you feeling it?” I was pointing to my back and she said, “Let’s get this baby off of your back.” We did some Spinning Babies and this really helped the back labor. I mean, it was still labor, but it was all in the front at that point which was really helpful. 

    The contractions were more regular, still pretty far apart like 10 minutes apart. She said, “All right, you’re at a good place.” This was a little before 8:00. She said, “I’m actually feeling really sick by the way.” I was like, “Oh.” She said, ”I called my backup doula just in case, but I just want you to know where I’m at.” I was like, “Oh no, Lauren.” She’s like, “Nope, not about me. Don’t worry about me.” I was like, “Okay.” But at 8:00 AM, she left, and then within half an hour, it was all in my back and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I wanted to call her back right away but I also knew, “She is sick. I don’t know.” We waited a couple of hours and it actually ended up being a really sweet time for my husband and me because we talked and we prayed and we cried. We just talked about how different our life would be. 

    I mean, we had done that too before our second son was born, but it felt like that was such a special time to talk it out. I’m thankful for that. 10:30, I did call my doula back and she said was going to tough it out and come over, then the backup doula would be coming, but then she called me right back and said, “Lindsey, I have a fever. I’m so sorry.” I was like, “Oh no.” I didn’t want to expose myself to a fever and the baby, so she took care of all of that. The backup doula was going to be coming at 12:30 but I was like, “Oh gosh. I have to make it until 12:30.”

    I found out two weeks before I was giving birth that my pastor’s wife is training to be a doula so I invited her to come. I don’t know her very well and I especially didn’t know her very well at the time, but I told her, “We’re going to know each other very well after this.” So we called her to come and it was nice because she is not a birth worker, but it was really beautiful to have her there and she was helping my husband at a few different points. Just watching her cry when the baby was born and I actually heard– jumping ahead here– but I actually heard my midwife telling her, “Okay, this,” and giving her tips. 

    Meagan: Tips and stuff? 

    Lindsey: Tips and stuff, yeah. That might bother some people, but maybe because I’ve been in school for so long myself, but I liked hearing it too so it ended up being a really beautiful thing. She was praying for us while everything was going on. The whole house was so peaceful. The backup doula ended up coming at 11:30. She came a little bit earlier at 11:30, then I had the pastor’s wife, and then when my midwife came, I felt so surrounded by loving, confident women and felt very safe. That’s something that I really wanted to feel was just like I knew everyone there. I felt really safe. That’s what I felt. 

    At this point, I was back in the shower when the doula arrived. Ashley is her name and I had never met her before. I turned off the shower and I was like, “Thank you for being here,” naked and sobbing. I hugged her. She said, “Okay, let’s do some Spinning Babies.” We did a few things and then at 12, it wasn’t even that long later, I was like, “I’ve got to go back to the shower.” So I was back to the shower and things continued to build up.

    I get out. They called the midwife and Ashley had thought of a few things we could do with Spinning Babies. She and the midwife were immediately on the same page. The midwife was on her way. They were like, “Let’s have Lindsey do the side-lying release,” and I was like, “Nothing in me wants to get on the side of the bed.” I looked at her and I said, “I’m done. I’ve got to go to the hospital. I need meds. I tried. I can’t do it.” She was very, very kind and acknowledged what I had to say and said, “Let’s just try this.”

    Meagan: Yeah. It’s such a hard thing as a doula because you’re like, “I know you want this and you’re saying this. I don’t want to ignore you and not take you seriously, to then later have you not feel heard or respected…”

    Lindsey: I can only imagine. 

    Meagan: But you can see a different space than they can see. Yeah. It’s a hard space to be in. 

    Lindsey: Right, especially when you met them an hour ago. 

    Meagan: Yes. Oh, I can’t even imagine, yeah. 

    Lindsey: Yeah, yeah. No, exactly. I appreciated that she was validating me, but I was like, “No. I’ve got to go.” But then I was pacing the house in my diaper naked and Zach said I was walking around like a zombie. The little amount in me that could think reasonably was like, “Okay, if I have to go to the hospital then I have to get checked in, and then if I get checked in, then I have to wait for an epidural from the anesthesiologist, then I have to be in the car to get to the hospital. That’s going to take so long. Okay. Let’s just try it.” So I tried it through three contractions, then she had me flip over to the other side. 

    As soon as I flipped over to the other side, my water exploded. I was wearing those diapers and it felt like the water filled up like a water balloon in my diaper and then burst to the floor. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I looked down at the water and it was green. I stood up and I was like, “Ashley!” I was hysterical. I was like, “It’s not clear. It’s not clear.” She was like, “I’ve been to a lot of births. It’s something that happens. We’ll talk to your midwife and see what she has to say.” It really ramped up. I went back to the shower. I remember I ran to the shower and turned it on. When I got in, it was cold, but the water warmed up. 

    Meagan: Yeah, but shocking. 

    Lindsey: Shocking, a cold shower, yeah. I was gasping. Then the water warmed up and I started screaming. She really was helping me through the contractions and was like, “Keep it low,” and so sweet in how she did it. I was just following her voice. So really, my husband at this point, when the doula was there, he was like, “I’m going to let her help my wife.” I didn’t feel like, “Where is my husband?” I felt like, “Okay, this is good. I’m glad that Ashley is helping me.” Actually, I found out later that he went and cleaned up my water. He was like, “I have something to do,” and he cleaned it up. 

    She reminded me, I failed to mention that when I did want to go the hospital, she reminded me, “When you get to this point, I know you’ve listened to a lot of birth education and listened to a lot of podcasts,” you know that this means that you are really close. It just didn’t feel real. I was like, “Yeah, but they were close. I don’t think that I’m close.”

    Meagan: It’s not possible that I’m the same. 

    Lindsey: I just felt like it was not possible, no. I did find this out later too because Jennifer, my midwife, wasn’t worried about the water. She said, “The color of the water, when it’s bright green, usually means that a baby is in distress, but when it’s brown and murky, it just means that the baby is old and has been in there for a while.” Again, he was eight days past his due date because I asked her later, “Why weren’t you concerned about it?” So she said that it was fine. That was good to know. 

    Meagan: Yeah, very good to know. 

    Lindsey: Yeah, so then I get in the shower. I had the mucus plug come out, the bloody show, and then things were ramping up. The midwife gets here and they want me to get out. I started to make a grunting noise. I was like, “Oh my gosh. Did I actually just do that?” Ashley said, “Are you feeling pushy?” I said, “I don’t know. I think so, maybe.” Then the midwife arrived and she was checking the water. She said, “The water is not warm enough,” because I had used all of the hot water. They were filling up the tub and the water was gone, so my husband was boiling water in the kitchen because there’s a certain threshold for the temperature that it has to be. 

    I still didn’t believe even though I was making grunting noises that I was going to give birth. I still thought, “I’m going to have to go to the hospital.” They tried to get me to sit on the toilet, and I can’t. I was like, “No.” I go to sit down and then I would get back up. I know the toilet is a dilation station and I was like, “Oh, I just can’t do it.” When she arrived, my midwife put her hand on my lower back. She never did a cervical check. She put her hand on my lower back. She said to my husband, I found out later, that I was probably a 7 or 8 when she got there. I asked her how she knew that and she said she would feel the tailbone push out and then the back of my buttcrack is a darker color. I was like, “Oh, interesting.” 

    I’m in the tub and they are adding hot water. I am pushing and they don’t have to coach me. I’m doing it. They’re encouraging m– my doula and my midwife– but my body just knew how to do it which was so cool. I did start to feel the ring of fire which actually to me didn’t feel that bad because the whole labor felt really bad. 

    Meagan: It didn’t to me either. It just felt like I had a whole ton of pressure. I just remember pressure. I don’t remember the full, full ring of fire. 

    Lindsey: No. Oh wait, I did forget one thing. I didn’t want to forget this. I didn’t think I could do it when I started to get to almost pushing. I think I must have said something. I should ask my husband. I must have said something because my midwife gave me a pep talk and she said, “Okay. Would it help you if you felt your baby’s head, like a little bit of biofeedback?” As a dentist, we talk to patients about different things like biofeedback so I was like, “Yeah, that connects with me.” I was like, “I don’t know how to do it.” She said, “Reach down, feel, and then you’ll feel something firm and squishy. It won’t feel like you.” I was like, “Okay.” Then I did. I was like, “Oh my gosh. He’s there.” That was definitely a big motivator for me. 

    I didn’t do that with my first son. They had offered and I was like, “Oh gosh, no. I don’t want to,” but I think that it was very helpful. There is a mental hurdle to giving birth. I think VBAC moms, I don’t want to say more of a hurdle, but I think we do. 

    Meagan: Sometimes we have extra stuff. We just do. We just do. 

    Lindsey: Yeah, so setting yourself up for success if it is touching your baby’s head. That was my point when I had to have the Cesarean was when I was pushing, so that pushed me through the threshold. It was mental at that point. The baby was coming. I just had to work with my body to do it. My husband has a funny memory of me when I was in the birth pool. I was holding both sides because there were the sides of the tub. I literally am roaring and I felt like I was roaring. I was like, “Come on.” My son’s name is Finn. I was like, “Come on, Finn. Let’s get this over with,” and just roaring him out. 

    My doula was standing in front of me. He was like, “You were just yelling in her face.” It took me an hour to push which sounds like a long time but didn’t feel like a long time at all. I held him and I cried. Zach was crying. The picture that I sent is really cool because you can see my husband tearing up in it. The pastor’s wife cried. Ashley was crying. Except for our midwife, she was cracking jokes the whole time not in a disrespectful way, but she kept the mood really light. I didn’t notice because I was in labor land, but my husband said that it was really nice. It kept him calm because she was so chill.

    She said to me later actually when I got in bed that my son didn’t cry right away but she checked. Actually, my doula recorded it so I could hear her. She checked the pulse and the cord. She wasn’t concerned that the baby didn’t cry right away because she felt that the pulse was really good. In the video, she was like, “He’s just getting ready to take his first breath,” really calm. She said to me later that she did do a little bit of suctioning which I was like, “No, that’s fine. I didn’t have a problem with that.” I say that because everything was so considerate. For all of the questions that were asked or what she did, she wanted to let me know. I could have never known that she did suctioning ever but she wanted me to know. I just thought that was really cool.

    She has me quickly get out of bed. I didn’t think it was quick, but we talked in our debrief later that it was quick because she saw that I was bleeding but no placenta came out, so she wanted to figure out where it was coming from. She had a really cool way of testing or trying to triage me without me knowing. At one point, I did pick up on it because she asked, “Are you feeling any pain in your arm?” Then I was like, “Oh, she’s checking my heart. I know that from being a dentist?” She would just ask low-key questions but was trying to make sure everything was all right. 

    Meagan: Without making you feel like it. 

    Lindsey: Panic. She was like, “Okay, we’re going to check your blood pressure.” Blood pressure was 100/40 so she said, “All right, Lindsey, let’s start you with some IVs,” I was like, “I don’t care. Do anything. I have my baby on my chest. Do whatever you want.” She said, “You have some bleeding. We’re going to try to see where it’s coming from and get the placenta out.” She had me try to push and I was like, “I feel like I can’t. I have no urge to push.” She said, “All right. I can try,” so she tried to pull it but then the cord was feeling like it was going to separate so she said, “Okay, I’m not going to do that.” 

    Sorry, when they started the IV, she was like, “I would like to give you a shot of PItocin.” I was like, “Okay, yeah. Go for it.” So she gave me a shot of Pitocin in my leg. It turns out that she was concerned about the bleeding. She was like, “I’ve got to figure out where this is coming from.” At that point, she had tried to pull it out. She wasn’t able to so she said, “Okay, Lindsey. I need you to push the placenta out.” I was like, “Okay.” So I pushed it out and she said, “I’m sorry. I have to be really mean and press on your abdomen,” so she really got on there to make sure that I wasn’t hemorrhaging or anything. 

    The birth assistant was stuck in traffic so she had just arrived at that point. She had her check too and she did find a small tear, a first-degree tear. Oh, sorry. I wasn’t going to do this but I’m going to do this one time. When I did feel that ring of fire, she said at that point, “Okay. Put your hand down there and where you are feeling burning, move the tissue out of the way,” so I think that helped. 

    She told me in a prenatal visit that she has women do that because she can try to feel or try to guess where they might tear, but when moms do it, it usually is really successful because they can feel it. I thought that would be really interesting. I did have that first-degree tear, but she said, “You probably don’t need a stitch, but I’d like to go ahead and do it because you have blood.” I said, “Yeah, fine.” So we did it. It was a venous tear so that’s why it ended up bleeding more. The bleeding stopped. We weighed the baby and they did the tuck-in service. 

    My in-laws were in town. They actually are the best and they were supposed to fly back to California that day because they came two weeks early. They came a week before my due date and stayed a week past because we thought the baby would be born then but he wasn’t. They were flying out that day but they canceled their flight and stayed because I had gone into labor the night before they left so they were with our one-and-a-half-year-old. They ended up saying, “We’re just going to get a hotel room and you guys hang out,” which was nice to have that time with just Zach and I and our new little baby boy. 

    After my HBAC, we were sitting on the bed with our second son and just so thankful. I asked my husband how he was feeling because I was curious about this experience. Would it be different than the hospital? He said that he was feeling great. He felt like in the hospital, he couldn’t really do much. The doula didn’t take over but he would try to support me in labor, but then he was like, “Well, what else do I do?” He felt like being at home, he put water in the tub. He cleaned up my water. At one point, he even said, “I put the dishes away.” 

    That night in bed, he did have a little bit of shaking, but I think his sympathetic nervous system was so ramped up. That happens. The specialty I’m getting into is pain– head and neck pain. Oral-facial pain is what it’s called. We have patients with chronic pain, people who have undergone post-traumatic stress and TBI, or I should say have post-traumatic stress disorder or TBI and their sympathetic nervous system is ramped up. 

    It’s designed like a zebra outrunning a lion. You’ll see a zebra shake after it’s done and shake it all out. But a zebra doesn’t keep thinking, “What if that lion would have caught me? What if I would have lost the let?” Zebras just move on. But we as people are the ones that think about, “What if?” So that’s what causes that sympathetic nervous system to keep staying on. 

    Anyway, so he had a little bit of the shakes. I was thinking through that and one of the things that we have patients do for chronic pain patients, it can also help with anxiety, and it can also help lower your blood pressure. Feel free to link this and look into it because there is a lot of evidence-based research on it. I’m saying that to all of the listeners too. It’s called diaphragmatic breathing. I highly recommend it just in general for any type of chronic pain. It’s really helpful but there have been studies of people lowering their blood pressure. 

    I was like, “All right, honey.” We were in bed. I was like, “We’re going to do some diaphragmatic breathing.” We did some diaphragmatic breathing and it really helped him calm down. What it does is it activates your vagus nerve which is that fight or flight reflex responsible, that nerve that innervates and starts up the fight or flight. It helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your body down. So that’s what I did and it was awesome. 

    Meagan: I love that. 

    Lindsey: Yeah. One more thing to go over after this, but to show where we are now, I did go back to work and this is my second week back, so very timely. My husband did a full week by himself with the kids and there was lots of crying because my baby doesn’t take a bottle during the day which is another story and also stressful. We’re working on it. The baby’s been crying a lot and is hungry. I asked him last night, “Okay, I’m on the podcast tomorrow. Let’s give a full update.” He said, “I have not felt any anxiety at all.” I was like, “That is so awesome.”

    Meagan: Oh awesome. 

    Lindsey: Right after the birth we talked about it, I was like, “Do you feel like you would have had this in the hospital?” He was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know if I would have because I would have had the same smells, same sights.” He and I both feel like the total change of environment was what was best for our family and really helped my success in my HBAC and for him too. I really do think that I would have gotten an epidural 100% if I was in the hospital. I was so close so I just wonder, “Would that have hindered me?” Who knows? You can’t play those games. You never know. 

    Meagan: It’s hard to know. It’s hard to know. I believe that if I were in a hospital for the second, and this is not to say anything bad about a hospital birth–

    Lindsey: No, no definitely not. 

    Meagan: I probably would have had an epidural too and I do believe that I probably would have had a third Cesarean but it’s so hard to know. I’m curious, maybe not. I have no idea. 

    Lindsey: Right, yeah. Absolutely. 

    Meagan: Oh man. 

    Lindsey: I have one last little thing I want to go over. Thank you. So one of the key components I think that was missing from my first birth was education. At almost every prenatal appointment, my midwife would say, “Any questions?” Almost every single time, I didn’t. I guess I trusted her and not that you shouldn’t trust your providers but I didn’t even know what to ask so that’s why I recommend your podcast to first-time moms too because then you know what to ask. 

    I did some reading. I definitely did some reading and I did the hospital birth class. I did a class with our doula too, a birth class with our first doula, but I did so much more the second time around. My point is that definitely finding a provider you can trust and you can feel like you can ask those questions or who would maybe even prompt you with what questions to ask is so helpful because being informed as a patient– I strive to build that rapport and trust with my patients every time. I tell them this, “We’re working together as a team and I want you to do your own research and I want to work with you to determine the best plan for you,” because when you feel empowered and informed, you have better outcomes. 

    I really felt like birth happened to me the first time around and then the second time, I was actively a part of my birth which was really a powerful thing. 

    Meagan: Very, very, very powerful. That’s something I was going to say. Even if it doesn’t go the way you want, you can still be the driver in the driver’s seat. We know that with babies and birth, things go certain ways and everything but you can still be empowered. 

    Lindsey: Thank you for saying that. I actually had that thought to say to share that too. Birth is crazy and you never know how it’s going to go or what’s going to happen but you would know, “Okay. I did all of the research beforehand and I can rest in the fact that it’s okay. We made the best decision at the time given the information that we had.” 

    Meagan: Absolutely. 

    Lindsey: I’m just going to read if it’s okay, a quick list because I am a list person and I listened to all of your VBAC Links. I gathered my own list. Everyone’s list of how to have a VBAC might look different but this is my list. 

    Meagan: Yay, I love it. 

    Lindsey: I’m a list person for all of you guys out there. I did listen to as many birth stories as possible. If I would have started sooner, I would have listened more, but my number one on Spotify in 2022 was The VBAC Link. I had listened to 206 episodes. I know there were almost all of the 206 episodes at the time. Almost all of them, not quite. I did learn things like the risks and benefits of Pitocin, what the labor shakes were, how having a tight pelvic floor can prevent baby from descending, how important movement is in labor, and coached pushing versus self-directed pushing. 

    I learned a lot about breathwork. There’s a really good YouTube video by Bridget Teyler that my doula told me about. 

    Meagan: Bridget’s awesome. 

    Lindsey: And then your podcast too talked about breathing. The low tones are so important. I didn’t know that the first time around. I did see a chiropractor once a week for the majority of my pregnancy starting really in the second trimester. When we moved here, I couldn’t find a Webster-based chiropractor in my area but I saw a corporate practice called The Joint. The woman there was trained in Webster. She just wasn’t certified because she doesn’t pay an annual fee to get the certification. Something to think about there. 

    I did drink the tea, the red raspberry leaf tea, and ate the Medjool dates at 37 weeks. Spinning Babies, I started that three to five days a week. I didn’t do as many intense workouts as I did with my first son. I really did a lot of walking partially because I had so many Braxton Hicks and partially because of hearing that having a tight pelvic floor can prevent the baby from descending.

    Hydrotherapy– I did so much of that during labor. I squeezed a comb through every single contraction. The comb was the comb that we brought home from my first birth that they give you at the hospital so it was kind of poetic. By the end, the comb was very destroyed from all of my squeezing. 

    I did write down my fears and emotions with the birth. I did boil it down to three that I was feeling. I told my doula and my midwife about them. I was like, “In case I stall in labor, I just want you to know.” I tried to really turn the fear/tension/pain cycle to not give in to the fear through every contraction. I’d turn that into prayer. Every contraction is helping my body to move down my baby and to work with that. I remember, and I would say that Pitocin contractions were worse than actual contractions, but I do remember that I was bracing every one like, “Oh no. Another one is coming.” I’d fight every contraction. It was still hard, but I tried to work with my body instead of pushing them away, then moving every 15 minutes to a new position in labor. 

    Meagan: Such a powerful list right there. 

    Lindsey: Oh, thank you. Hopefully, if someone is like, “Oh, my VBAC might be tomorrow, maybe they can listen to this episode and get some tips at the end there in the final hour.” 

    Meagan: Yes, the final hour. The final countdown. I love it. Thank you so much and huge congrats. 

    Lindsey: Thank you. Thank you.

    Meagan: Congrats. What a crazy journey to go from moving and finding providers, then changing and even changing doulas in the very end. You had change up until the very end. 

    Lindsey: The very end. I didn’t even think about that. That’s true. 

    Meagan: Yeah, you really did. Awesome. I’m so happy to hear that everything is going well right now and your husband is going better. That’s really awesome. 

    Lindsey: Thank you. It’s really good, really, really good. Thank you so much. I’m just so honored to be here and to see you face to face and just thank you for all that you do. 

    Meagan: Thank you. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    1h 3m | Mar 29, 2023
  • Episode 227 Brenda's VBAC + Heart-Shaped Uterus

    Due to a velamentous cord insertion and breech presentation, Brenda decided to schedule a Cesarean for her first birth. It was a peaceful, calm, and beautiful experience. 

    When she became pregnant with her second baby soon after the first, Brenda knew she would be okay with another Cesarean if necessary, but also intuitively felt that this birth experience would be very different. 

    Though she didn’t know exactly what to expect from labor, her body took over and knew exactly what to do…even in the car!

    Additional Links

    Brenda’s Website

    Brenda’s Instagram

    Brenda’s Facebook

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    The VBAC Link Facebook Community

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Happy Wednesday, everybody. You’re listening to The VBAC Link. This is your host, Meagan, and you guys, we have a great story for you. A really, really great, exciting story. One of those stories that you see go viral. Brenda, you might have gone viral. They go viral, a lot of these stories, and they’re really fun to listen to. I always remember imagining and being like, “That would be cool if that happened to me,” then I’d be like, “What would I do?” I don’t know what I would do. 

    Our friend, Brenda, is here to share her story with you. You guys, trust me. It’s going to be an amazing one. I’m going to read a review and then we are going to jump right into it. 

    Review of the Week

    Today’s review is by jess63636 and it says, “Fantastic resource for mamas looking to VBAC.” It says, “I listened to the VBAC podcast in the days leading up to my delivery. I wish I had discovered it sooner. The VBAC Link resource helped me through a successful VBAC induction.” 

    Love it, congratulations. 

    “It was an empowering experience facilitated by the support of The VBAC Link.” 

    Oh, that makes me so happy. It makes me so happy. We have a lot of people that will find us toward the end and they’re like, “Oh, we wish that we knew about you.” I’m like, “I love that you love the podcast in the time that you did have us.” Don’t stop listening because guess what? All of these stories are going to continue and they’re all amazing and have their own special twists. So if you would also like to leave a review if you feel like jess63636 and would like to leave us a review, we would love it. So check it out. You can go on Google or on Apple Podcasts. You can shoot us a message at The VBAC Link on Instagram, Facebook, or wherever and you might be the next review read on the podcast. 

    Brenda’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Brenda. I’m excited to hear it. I was reading it, but I’m excited to hear from your words. I just think it’s great. We kind of talked about this right before we started recording, but I want to also tell listeners that you have something that a lot of our followers will write in and say, “My provider is telling me that I can’t have a vaginal birth because…” What do you have? 


    Brenda: A partial bicornuate uterus.


    Meagan: Yes.


    Brenda: Also known as the heart.


    Meagan: Heart-shaped, exactly. So a heart-shaped uterus. Is it different? Yes. But you are living proof, right? You are living proof that it can be done. So yeah, if you have a heart-shaped uterus then listen up. This is quite the story.


    Brenda: All right. I’m just going to start with my daughter’s quick story/birth and everything and also just mention her C-section. There was nothing traumatic about it for me. Everything went really smoothly and it was a really good C-section. I almost fell asleep during it was how calm and peaceful it was.


    Meagan: That’s so beautiful though. That’s so beautiful.


    Brenda: Yeah, it really was. I love listening to redemption stories, but personally, it wasn’t a redemption for me. It was just another experience that I wanted to experience.


    Meagan: Which I think is important to note by the way. Just saying that right there because we do hear a lot of hype, and mine was hyped I believe, and a traumatic experience. I don’t mean hyped like we are hyping it up. It’s a very intense lead-up and sometimes you can look back and are really struggling. It doesn’t always have to be that way and it isn’t always that way so we also need to be mindful of our listeners that didn’t have a traumatic Cesarean because sometimes we carry our feelings outwardly so it’s okay that someone had a beautiful experience.


    Brenda: Yes. Yes. It was really beautiful and leading up to it when I found out I was going to need the C-section with her, I was really disappointed. Ultimately, I wanted to have an unmedicated, vaginal birth with her and then we ran into, they weren’t really complications, but we didn’t know about my uterus. I had a very healthy pregnancy.


    She never moved much. She was breech pretty much the entire time. From my 20-week scan on, she never moved or flipped or anything but she was fine. A bunch of sono techs kept asking me, “Do you know what the shape of your uterus is?” By the time they had started asking me, my uterus was too expanded from being pregnant. I never had a reason to go find out what shape my uterus was.


    We had switched our OBs multiple times throughout my first pregnancy. We went from a friend’s OB, who had two Cesareans with him which were great. He was a great doctor. I just didn’t want to be in the hospital really, so we switched to a birthing center and then we were kicked out of the birthing center because she was breech and I also had a velamentous cord with her.


    Meagan: Which I feel like is also more common than we know.


    Brenda: Yeah. Yes, it definitely is. But I know too, our OB from my second pregnancy said that he usually doesn’t find out until birth about it, but with my first pregnancy, everyone was scaring me about it because it can be scary.


    Meagan: Yeah. It can result in IUGR and complications during birth.


    Brenda: Yes, but I just feel like they really hyped it up for me like, “You need to get a C-section.” I did feel like I needed to because she was breech on top of the cord insertion. So we ended up switching to a midwife after we got turned down. It was a midwife that one of our friends who was also pregnant was using and I was just like, “You know what? Let’s just do it. I don’t really want to be with an OB. It’s a pretty good hospital here,” so we switched and she basically explained the velamentous cord because I feel like it was really hard to find information on it when you Google it. There’s no clear information on it.


    She had drawn out a picture for us to understand it and then she explained, “And the baby’s breech and we don’t know what—” They thought that my uterus was a notch. I don’t know if I’m staying that right, but they thought that there was something stopping her from moving and then it ended up being that my uterus wasn’t what they expected it to be. So then once she drew the picture, it was just clear and I felt like, “Okay. This just needs to happen. I can’t even attempt it.” I even went through trying to find doctors who would deliver breech babies and there were not really many around here.


    Meagan: There’s not really many around anywhere.


    Brenda: Yes. So I did go down that route for a little bit and then I was just like, “Okay. I think I can’t do this. I’m stressing myself out too much and I don’t want the baby to be stressed,” so we had scheduled a C-section for May 17, 2021, and no. She was due on the 17th. The section was scheduled for the 13th and then my water ended up breaking at midnight on the 8th, the day before Mother’s Day.


    But I did also do all of the squats and I tried to induce labor because just personally, I wanted her to pick her own birthdate. I’m one of the oddballs when it comes to C-sections. I don’t like to plan the date. I would prefer to go into labor and let the baby choose so I was so excited when my water broke in my sleep. My husband was freaking out because he was like, “Oh good. We have the C-section date,” not freaking out, but he was at ease.


    Meagan: He was planning that day, yeah.


    Brenda: Yeah, and then the next day was Mother’s Day. We got to the hospital. We had a doula and she ended up meeting us at the hospital. Because of COVID and everything, she wasn’t allowed to come into—I think in the OR they’re usually not allowed to come in at this hospital, but she couldn’t even come in after to see us, but she was with us before. It was nice because even though I was excited, both of us were really nervous.


    Meagan: Yes. Well, talking about that. We get a lot of emails about, “What if it goes to a Cesarean, or what if I need a Cesarean? Is a doula worth it? Would you say yes?”


    Brenda: 1000% yes. Yeah, I would say because we had hired her before I needed a Cesarean and then that happened. She was with us after and just comforting me. I really, really wanted to do an unmedicated birth. It was definitely worth it because she also came over to the house after. We didn’t know what we were doing. We were first-time parents also and then I’m recovering from a major surgery. It’s not just a birth. It’s a surgery too and I had never had any surgeries in my lifetime, so that was the first one. But yeah, it’s definitely worth it if you can afford it or if you find somebody. I know around here, they have a lot of communities where they have affordable doulas which are really nice.


    Yeah, it was worth it and she was there, thankfully. My husband and I were both freaking out inside of our heads at the same time. I don’t think we both realized it and when we talked about it after, we had to wait for five hours for my C-section in the hospital.


    Meagan: Wow.


    Brenda: Yeah, because I had to get the COVID test and then I wasn’t really progressing or anything.


    Meagan: Oh, wow. I was going to say that normally with that type of situation, they would get you right in so that’s interesting.


    Brenda: Yeah, they were very busy that night.


    Meagan: They’re like, “You’re okay. You’re not having a baby right now.” Gotcha.


    Brenda: Yeah. Right before I went in, I started to get some mild contractions, but I didn’t know what contractions were until the second pregnancy. It was like, “Oh, I think I was getting a contraction. I don’t know.” But she kept us calm waiting to go in because five hours was a long time to wait.


    Meagan: That’s a long time to wait.


    Brenda: Yeah, so that was good and like I said, I almost fell asleep on the table and my husband was rubbing my head. He doesn’t do good with blood and stuff so he was trying to keep his eyes on me and rubbing my head to focus on something and not knowing it was really keeping me calm. But yeah, then she was born and it was Mother’s Day the next day. It was one of the hospital’s busiest weekends in years they said.


    Meagan: Wow.


    Brenda: Yeah, so that’s why we had to wait five hours.


    Meagan: Makes sense, makes sense.


    Brenda: Yeah, and then the next day, the OB—he was an on-call OB. I actually don’t even remember his name but I really, really liked him just because when he came in to check on us the next day, he had drawn out my uterus. He said, “So we have figured out your uterus. It is the partial bicornuate heart-shaped uterus” and explained, “This is where your daughter was in the womb,” and all of that.


    I don’t remember if I asked him but he basically just said to me, “You can totally have a vaginal birth going forward now that we know,” because this is the part I forgot. They didn’t want to manually flip her because they were sure and then with the cord insertion and everything, it was too much. It could have been a big storm.


    Meagan: Yeah, totally. That’s cool that he came and spent that time and was like, “This is where we’re going,” and that he even did say, “You can have a vaginal birth in the future, assuming we’ve got all of these other things.” But that’s really cool that he took that time, especially during one of the busiest weekends of the year.


    Brenda: Yeah, yeah. Actually, thinking back now after my second pregnancy, the midwife, I wouldn’t go back to her even though she was great for that, but thinking back, I’m like, “She didn’t check on us.” There are a lot of things now looking back I’m like—


    Meagan: Yes, and all of those things matter. They matter. They really do.


    Brenda: Yeah, but then that was my daughter, Harper.


    I’ll just go right into Hudson.


    Meagan: All right.


    Brenda: So Hudson is five months today by the way. I was very excited to record this for his five-month birthday. My husband and I had my daughter. We decided that we wanted to have another child and we just tried and two months later I became pregnant with him. I had reached out to the doula that we worked with for the first pregnancy. So I’m in Queens but I’m in the furthest part of Queens-- not the furthest part. I’m by the beach in Queens and she’s in Brooklyn and just where we are, it’s long to get to places in Brooklyn or in Manhattan and stuff. We’re just really far and it’s a long commute everywhere.


    So she had recommended this other doula who was closer to us from her doula community and we ended up clicking really well. I know when I first met her—


    Meagan: That’s awesome.


    Brenda: Yeah, it was nice. When I first met her on the Zoom call, she had just said—I just assumed I was going to need a scheduled Cesarean for the second time because this is now, they’re 15 months apart. It’s pretty close.


    Meagan: It’s close, yeah. Yeah.


    Brenda: Yeah, but she had said, “No, if you want a vaginal birth, you should totally do your research,” and she recommended The VBAC Link. So then we ended up looking into it and my husband was freaking out a little bit because he also just had in his head, “Oh, two years. Two years.” That’s what everybody is told.


    So once she recommended that I started listening to you guys and the more stories I heard, I was like, “Whoa. Okay.” I started researching, “How about babies who are born 15 months apart?” Just the shorter age gaps and stuff and I just kept hearing more and more and more, so then I decided, “All right. We’re going to try for a VBAC.”


    We ended up calling the midwife back again—


    Meagan: The out-of-hospital midwife?


    Brenda: Yes. She was in the hospital with us. She was with me through the C-section.


    Meagan: Okay, so not the birth center one.


    Brenda: No, so the birth center wouldn’t allow me back in either because of the Cesarean. Even if it was five years later, they wouldn’t take me on.


    Meagan: It was the fact that you were a previous Cesarean.


    Brenda: Yeah. We did meet with her the first two appointments and I did find out from a Long Island VBAC Facebook group because the hospital that we went to was in Long Island and I had seen a post that our midwife, someone else who was seeing our midwife, wasn’t delivering anymore. My husband is a New York City firefighter and another couple in his firehouse was going to the same midwife. They were also pregnant and didn’t know either, so I guess she didn’t tell anybody. It was really odd.


    Meagan: You were planning on giving birth with her.


    Brenda: Yeah and she did say too at our first appointment, “Yeah, if you go into labor by 39 weeks, you can totally try for a VBAC. If you don’t we have to schedule you by 39.” It was that same thing and then I found out she wasn’t delivering, and then I went to hop around to the other OBs in the office just to see if I clicked with anybody and every appointment for me just felt like another doctor’s appointment. They all said the same thing.


    In the VBAC group, somebody had mentioned a doctor from the practice and she had to fight with him to let her go to 41 weeks. I’m not a confrontational person.


    Meagan: Well and it’s hard because you’re already so vulnerable to have to walk in with your boxing gloves up, it’s not a great start. It’s not a great start.


    Brenda: Yeah, so I was just like, “I’m not fighting to want to go to 41 or 42 weeks. If I need to, the baby wants to.” So our doula and her doula community recommended the OB that we had switched to. My in-laws live next door and when I was talking to my mother-in-law, she was like, “Oh. That’s the practice that I went to when Sean was born,” but it was a different doctor. He had passed away and it was just a different doctor at the same practice. I was like, “Wow.” I felt like it was kind of meant to be.”


    While I was on the way to, I think I had already been switched to him, an old friend had randomly reached out to me. I hadn’t talked to her since before COVID. We were talking on the phone. I’m driving to the OB and she’s like, “How are you?” She wanted to ask me something and I was just telling her, “I’m pregnant again and I had to switch OBs because I want a VBAC.” She had her VBAC with the same doctor.


    Meagan: That’s awesome.


    Brenda: Yeah, and she’s a little bit older than me. Her kids are my age. I’m 31. Her kids are my age. I was like, “Oh wow, so you had a VBAC with them?” Yeah, so it was just another sign like, “All right. This is meant to be. This is who we’re going to go see for this pregnancy.” When we met him, he said to me, “I don’t see why you can’t go to 41 weeks and then once you get to 41 weeks, we discuss other options or routes like induction or whatnot.”


    That just made me feel really good the way he said that. He said, “You can totally. You had a healthy pregnancy. This pregnancy is healthy.” So we ended up switching to him and that was the second half of my pregnancy. Actually, I think I switched to him closer to the third trimester again.


    So then fast forward to 39 weeks. I went for my 39-week checkup and everything was good. I think I was 2 centimeters dilated. I ended up getting my cervix checked and everything which was fine. I was asked if I wanted to just see where I was because, with Harper, my water broke at 38.5 so now I’m past the date that she was. I think I was 39+2 for my checkup or 39 and one day and everything looked good. No real signs of labor.


    I go about my day and I was eating carbs all day. There was nothing around. I was too tired to do anything and then after my appointment, I went to a bagel store. It was in a very big Jewish community and they didn’t have meat or pork or anything so I had to get a grilled cheese but on a bagel, because they didn’t have regular bread either. It was a really thick sandwich but I was so hungry so I was like, “Whatever. I’m just going to eat this.”


    Meagan: I bet it tasted really good.


    Brenda: Yeah. I also had cookies. It was just all carbs all day. I remember thinking, “Man. I just need to eat protein tomorrow. This is too much. I feel carb overloaded.”


    Meagan: Yeah, and then sometimes you just crash.


    Brenda: Yeah, and that night we went out for a walk with my husband, my daughter, and my mother-in-law. We took my daughter to a playground and there was a little food truck by us. We got burgers after and I was just like, “More bread, but can I just have the patty?” but it was a little food truck, so I ate it.


    We came home. I put my daughter down. I went to the bathroom and I lost my mucus plug. I had read about mucus plugs, but if it never happened, then I never knew. It didn’t happen with my daughter. I had no idea and then I was like, “Oh. This is the mucus plug that I’ve read about and that people talk about all the time.” It was a lot and it just didn’t stop coming out, so I just texted our doula.


    Also this week, the doula that we hired was on vacation which we knew going into the pregnancy and I met the backup doula. In my head, I also knew. I’m like, “This is what’s going to happen. He’s just going to come the week that she’s on vacation,” kind of thing. I just had a gut feeling the whole pregnancy. I called our backup doula, Makee, just to let her know. I was like, “Hey, I lost my mucus plug. I know it doesn’t mean anything or it could mean something. Just to let you know.”


    I was a little crampy but not enough to be like, “I’m in labor.” I went down to my husband and I just said to him, “We need to go to bed tonight. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I might go into labor tonight. We should just get sleep while we can.”


    Meagan: Prepare. Way to prepare.


    Brenda: Yes. So we got ready to go to bed and I went to go take a bath really quickly because I had really bad restless leg syndrome. They were really bad in both pregnancies for me so I would take a bath before bed and it helped a lot. So I took a bath. I went to bed or tried to go to bed. My husband passed out with no problem. He’s like, “Okay, let’s go to sleep.” I tried to go to bed but Hudson was moving all around. He moved a lot but I was not used to the movement because Harper didn’t move at all that whole pregnancy and then this pregnancy, he was moving a lot but then that night was a lot more than ever. He was full-on partying in there.


    Finally, when I was able to fall asleep, it had to be five or ten minutes before my water broke. My husband and I, because he knew I was trying for a VBAC, and our OB, Dr. Bachman, said to me when I met him that in order for a successful unmedicated VBAC, he told me to labor at home as long as possible.


    Meagan: Yeah, wow.


    Brenda: Which was the plan, yeah. That was one of the first things that he said to me. My husband would agree to a home birth if we lived in an area that had a better hospital nearby. The closest hospital is just not somewhere you want to be for emergency labor or whatever. So yeah. Our doctor had said to labor at home as long as possible, so my husband and I agreed that if my water breaks again, I’m going to let him sleep until I feel it necessary to wake him up because I wanted him to get sleep.


    Meagan: Yeah. He needs to rest too.


    Brenda: Yes. So he agreed and I went downstairs. I was like, “All right. Let me call our doula just to let her know that my water broke and things are moving along.” She had asked me, “All right, when you want me to come over, let me know.” I had to think about it because I don’t know how far along I am and I didn’t really go through full labor or even half of labor.


    So I was just like, “All right.” One of my friends was up. This was 1:00 AM and she was up so I was like, “Okay. I’m going to call her.” So I called her and I was on the phone with her for almost two hours just to keep calm because I was getting contractions, but they were 6-7 minutes apart. I don’t know if that’s too close to being calm, but I felt fine and I was able to talk and stuff. I just couldn’t relax and go to sleep.


    But Malky, our doula, also was telling me to eat whatever. I was trying to eat, but I ate so many carbs that day that it actually was great for me going into labor.


    Meagan: You carb-loaded literally.


    Brenda: So I was on the phone with my friend for two hours. I threw up in the middle of our conversation which I didn’t know was a thing while you are in labor, but it was just a one-and-done, so it was good. Then I was like, “All right. Let me just go wake Sean up because we have to get the car seat in the car still.” I don’t plan ahead. I had everything out for my hospital bag and I knew where I put everything, so I was like, “All right. When I go into labor, I’ll just pack it. I’ll have time,” which I did pack it, but we needed the car seat still in the car and stuff so I was like, “All right. Let me just go wake him up and just let him know.”


    I called our doula. I was like, “You can come over now.” She was getting over something. She had been sick, so there was another backup doula for her, but she was over the hump. She had let me know on the phone. She was like, “Do you want me to connect you because she knows that you are in labor too?” I just said to her, “Nope. I need you here. I met you.” I’m sure the other doula was also great. I trust who they work with, but I just needed somebody that I had known and met already in person here. I was like, “I don’t care. Just come over. You won’t touch the baby and if I need you to hold the baby, you’ll just have a mask on,” kind of thing. I said, “Otherwise, you said that you’re over the hump. I trust you. Come over please.”


    She came over and I took another bath while I was in labor. My husband lit some sage in a candle for me and made my bath water. He was just getting everything together. We have two dogs. Our daughter was sleeping throughout this whole time. She sleeps 12, 13, and 14 hours so she was out cold. I kept saying, “Oh, I can’t wait until she wakes up. She can hang out with us for a little bit.” I was still moving and talking and whatnot.


    I was able to fall asleep in the bath for five or ten minutes and then my contractions were still five minutes apart. Our doula had explained, “Once your contractions start increasing to one minute long, a minute and a half long, we’ll start to decide if you are ready to go to the hospital or whatnot.” The entire time, they were 30-45 seconds. They never reached a minute.


    My daughter woke up probably at 8:00 in the morning, a little after 8:00 and my husband went to go get her dressed and brought her into our bedroom. I had gone through the biggest transition during labor. It was just immediately like, “Okay. I feel like I have to poop. I know I have heard this in stories.” I looked at my doula and I was like, “Malky, we have to go to the hospital.” My husband was still with our daughter.


    She was just like, “Are you sure?” because she was timing the contractions for us and making sure we have time to get there. She was just like, “Are you sure?” and then I had to think about it and I know in my head too, I couldn’t picture having the baby in the hospital. I’m very intuitive and it was just one of those things where in my head, I was like, “I don’t think we’re going to make it, but we can’t do this here because Sean is going to freak out.”


    When she said that, I was like, “Yeah. We do have to go. I can’t have the baby here because this is what we had agreed on.” I was just like, “I didn’t plan to have the baby at home kind of thing,” so I was just like, “Yeah. We have to go.” Sean brought Harper into our room and the plan was for her to hang out with us in bed and have her morning milk with us.


    Meagan: But it was past that at that point.


    Brenda: I looked at him and I was like, “You need to bring her next door to your parents. We have to go now.” He had told his parents that I was in labor, so they knew, “All right. We’re going to be taking Harper soon,” so he brought her to his mom’s and then we were trying to go downstairs. At one point, I did have to poop so then Makee was like, “Can you feel for a head or something?” Sean was right outside our bedroom so I was like, “Oh no. He heard that. I hope he doesn’t freak out.” But he was really good. He was really calm hearing all of that.


    So then I tried to feel, but I was too afraid to know if there was a head there kind of thing. My dream birth was if the baby was coming, just come out. I don’t want to have to push. So I just didn’t want to know. I just wanted the baby to come out if he was coming. I was like, “I don’t know. We have to go to the hospital.” I was too afraid to know.


    Meagan: Yeah. You’re like, “Let’s just go.”


    Brenda: We make our way down to the car. That was like I said, a little after 8:00, so finally, we’re all in the car at 8:45. I also looked at Malky and I was like, “You’re coming in the car with us, right?” She’s like, “No, that was the plan. That was the plan.” I was like, “Okay good because Sean is driving. I need you in the back with me. I can’t do these contractions by myself.” She was with me the whole time at the house and I couldn’t imagine doing them by myself in the car while Sean was driving.


    So we all got in the car and we were driving. The tension in my body went away completely. I was still contracting but it wasn’t as bad as that last transition. I just felt a little more at ease and my contractions were still there, maybe four minutes apart, but less than a minute long. I’m talking to my husband and Malky in the car breathing. I was fine. The hospital was 28 minutes on the GPS to get there. It was morning traffic, but it wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t terrible. It was actually a good time when we left, but my husband didn’t think we were as far as I felt at first before leaving the house.


    Then I did start to feel a little pressure moving downward and Malky was like, “Can you feel for the head?” I was too afraid to know still in the car. I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” I don’t know what happened that made her ask me. She asked me. She was like, “Pull your pants down!” We were a couple of blocks away from the hospital.


    Meagan: She wanted to look for the head.


    Brenda: I was like, “You just need to look. I can’t do this.” I forget what exactly happened at that moment when she told me to pull my pants down to check. She was like, “I see a head.”


    Meagan: Out or she’s seeing crowning?

    Brenda: I think she’s seeing crowning. On top of this throughout my entire labor, I had asked her, “Take all of the pictures and videos you can.” So on top of doing all of that and calling the doctor in the car to update them, she’s recording everything for me.


    Meagan: That’s amazing. That’s amazing.


    Brenda: Yeah. So she said, “I see a head,” and I think she meant that the baby was crowning. He ended up flying out a few seconds later in the car and we were a block away from the hospital.


    Meagan: I can’t. What did Sean do?


    Brenda: He kept driving. He had to run a couple of red lights. Yeah, because he was taking his time at first and then once she said she saw the head, he had to skip through some red lights and go around because we were so close. He just went right to the front of the hospital. Malky kept calling the hospital and was just saying, “Okay, we’re coming. She’s literally about to have the baby.” I don’t remember if she called when the baby was there, but when we got there, the nurses were waiting for us in the lobby.


    Sean parked right in front of the entrance and ran in. They were like, “Oh, where’s your wife?” She was like, “She’s in the car with the baby.” They all came running out of the hospital. They all came running out of the hospital and then the nurses came in to check on us. While we were driving that last block, I was trying to get Hudson skin-to-skin because I had a t-shirt on. I’m like, “Wait, how do I rip this off? I can’t.” At the same time, I’m like, “Is Sean okay? Is he going to pass out?” because he gets really woozy.


    And then I was like, “Wait, but I also just had a VBAC.” I was so excited.


    Meagan: All of these things are going through your mind.


    Brenda: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know what to do at first. I’m trying to get him on my skin, but it was really cool. They came out and they let me cut the cord in my car.


    Meagan: That is awesome.


    Brenda: Yeah, that was one of the things I really wanted to do was cut the cord myself. Sean wasn’t able to cut Harper’s cord because like I said, he gets woozy but after that car ride, he was able to cut the rest of the cord for Hudson in the hospital which I was shocked that he was just like, “Yeah. I’ll do it.”


    Meagan: He was probably in the fight or flight like, “Sure, yeah,” not able to really think about what he was doing.


    Brenda: Yes. Yeah. So he was able to do that and he made it without passing out. One of the first things when we parked and as soon as he got out of the car, I was like, “Is he okay? Is he going to pass out?”


    Meagan: Yeah. I love that you just had this baby in the back of a car and you’re so worried about someone else’s feelings. I love it.


    Brenda: I just wanted everybody to be happy and safe. I didn’t want my husband to pass out and he didn’t, thankfully. But he was in for it.


    Meagan: I love it.


    Brenda: And then the placenta was delivered in the hospital. They had given me a little Pitocin to get it out. Our OB was in the middle of another labor when we got there and then actually, I think he just got out when they got me in the bed to get into the hospital and the first thing he said was, “Well, you didn’t need me for your VBAC.”


    Meagan: He’s like, “You did that on your own.” You did that all on your own. That’s crazy to think about.


    Brenda: Yeah, it really is. I didn’t push. I felt the pressure, but I didn’t know what I was doing. Even after all of the stories that I’ve listened to, I was just like, “I think the baby’s coming but I don’t know,” and I think that maybe part of me was trying to hold it in until we got to the hospital so my husband wouldn’t pass out. But Hudson was just like, “Nope. I’m coming right now.”


    Meagan: I’m coming. And there he was in the back of the truck.


    Brenda: Yes. Yes.


    Meagan: That’s amazing. Huge congrats. I’ve always wondered what it would be like. You see those videos and the videos go crazy because I remember I was like, “This is amazing!” But really if you think about your story as one of those that everybody thinks about or that they are like, “I don’t want to do this,” but then it sometimes happens.


    Brenda: Yep, yep. Yeah. It was quite the experience. I know I’ve heard even on your podcast stores, there are people who are like, “I almost had the baby in the car,” and that wasn’t really my intention, but it happened. Whenever I heard them in stories and stuff, I was like, “Wow. Could that be me? No. I might just be a C-section mom for the rest.” That was just in my head, but yeah. Like I said before we left, when I said to Malky when she asked me if I’d be more comfortable, no. I wouldn’t be more comfortable in the hospital, but in my head, I couldn’t picture having a baby in the hospital which was crazy.


    It was like I kind of knew we weren’t going to make it but I wasn’t trying to not make it.


    Meagan: Yeah. Right, right, right. Yeah. That intuition was speaking to you.


    Brenda: Yeah. I was like, “Oh man. We might have stayed home a little bit too long.”


    Meagan: I love it so much. It’s so awesome. It’s so, so awesome. You’ve had this journey of finding providers, a little bit closer timeline of pregnancy and birth, and a heart-shaped uterus. You’ve got all of these things and then you just had this beautiful accidental car birth, but a beautiful VBAC. I’m so happy for you and huge congrats.


    Brenda: Thank you. There was just one more thing I wanted to mention. When we did switch to our OB, they are a very old-school practice so they don’t do the measurements. They don’t measure anything but he had sent me to their high-risk tech just to check everything out toward the end. I only had one appointment with them and I remember being in there. After the tech measured everything and everything looked good, the doctor came in to talk to us and she made me feel like I was crazy for wanting a VBAC so close. I know towards the end of the appointment, she was like, “Do you want to know your success percentage?”


    Meagan: The VBAC calculator?


    Brenda: Yes, which I didn’t even know was a thing until she asked me.


    Meagan: Totally a thing.


    Brenda; I don’t really get intimidated. I’m just the type of person that I need to know every little thing that could go wrong and it doesn’t stress me out, but I have friends who it does stress out and family who stresses out over that stuff and they would rather not know which I respect. I’m just the opposite of that. So I was like, “Yeah. Go ahead. Do it. I’m curious.” I think I was something like 75% or something. It was in the seventies and I’m like, “Oh, great. That’s a good number.” I think she was trying to scare me. It was really weird and uncomfortable.


    They had mentioned too that I had a velamentous cord insertion the second pregnancy too and I said, “No, I don’t think so. It’s been pretty strong from the beginning.” When we were still at the other office, I know it can change, but nobody ever said anything. They had told our OB this time that “Oh, she has a velamentous cord insertion,” kind of thing. I know she didn’t make a big deal of it but I just knew it wasn’t a velamentous cord insertion. At the hospital, when the placenta was delivered, our OB was like, “Nope. You were right.” They were reading the paperwork from my first pregnancy. I kept saying that to her. I was like, “Are you sure you’re reading the right notes? Everything you’re saying is from Harper’s pregnancy, not this pregnancy.”


    She was just like, “No, no, no. I’m right and you’re wrong.” I was like, “Okay, whatever you say. I know what I’m feeling.”


    Meagan: You’re like, “But okay.”


    Brenda: Yeah. Yeah.


    Meagan: Yeah. It sounds like you’re really intuitive.


    Brenda: Yes. I was just happy to be right after the VBAC and then when the doctor told me because I was just like, “Can you just make sure? I’m curious. I know the placenta is here. Everything went well. I just needed to know. Did they really mess up?”


    Meagan: Yeah. Interesting.


    Brenda: But yeah. That was Hudson’s story and I can’t believe that he entered the world like that.


    Meagan: Me neither but it’s amazing. Such a fun story to share forever. He’ll be like, “Yeah. I was born in a car.” That is so awesome. Well, thank you so much, so so much for being here with us today and sharing your story.


    Really quickly before we go, I feel like you’re an entrepreneur and I just wanted to share your stuff. We’ll make sure to tag all of your stuff on Instagram today and have it in the show notes but do you want to tell everybody? To me, it looks like custom designs and t-shirts and hoodies and hats and beanies and all of these things, and then are you a yoga instructor?


    Brenda: Yes.


    Meagan: Okay, that’s what I thought.


    Brenda: Yes. Yes, so I teach yoga. I actually recently went back to a spa where I was teaching at. I guess I’ve been there for over a month now. I’ve been back for over a month because COVID happened then I was pregnant for two years and then recently, I was like, “Okay. I need to go back and teach.” I don’t want to work full-time. I love being home with the kids so yoga is nice because it’s just one hour out here and there. Like I said, we live next door to my in-laws who are amazing help and I’m able to go teach because of them. If we didn’t have the help, my husband works too and his schedule is all over the place, so we have that.


    Meagan: Where can people find you?


    Brenda: My Instagram is @YogiBrendaLee and then I also make t-shirts and sweatshirts and stuff at home. We do local designs and are starting to branch out to do not some local designs so that people elsewhere can find them. My husband’s been helping me with our website and that’s called Channel Creations. I think the website is channelcreationsbc.com.


    Meagan: Yep. That’s what I have.


    Brenda: Okay, yes. I had to go double-check.


    Meagan: Super cute stuff. I should have you do a custom VBAC sweatshirt.


    Brenda: Oh, yeah definitely.


    Meagan: I’ll have to write you. That would be awesome.


    Brenda: We’re here. We make stuff for some local companies here and a bunch of our friends usually hook us up with people that they know for their businesses. But yeah, so that’s that. Yeah, we have—I’ll show you, but it’s this mama shirt that we just recently came up with and it has the hearts with everybody’s name on it.


    Meagan: So cute.


    Brenda: The dogs’ names are on here too.


    Meagan: I love that. So cute. So cute.


    Brenda: Thank you, yeah.


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    48m | Mar 22, 2023
  • Episode 226 Pat's VBAC Over 40 + Processing Your Difficult VBAC

    Achieving your VBAC is an accomplishment worth celebrating, but it's also important to hold space for processing the difficult moments.

    Pat joins us today to share how she birthed both of her babies over the age of 40 as well as how she found a supportive team to go for her VBAC.

    She shares the importance of paying attention to your feelings when choosing a provider even if everyone around you feels differently. Pat experienced some traumatic events during her VBAC which left her feeling grateful for the outcome desired but unexpectedly having to grieve the loss of what she thought would be a dreamy and empowering experience.

    Additional Links

    Pat’s Website

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hey guys, this is Meagan. I’m so excited for another amazing story. We are actually going to be talking about something that I don’t feel like we talk about a ton and it’s going to be pregnancy after 40. Even really 36, right? I feel like in the medical world, 36 is old. I’m doing air quotes because it’s such an annoying thing to be but we are going to talk about that. Pregnancy after 40 and what that looks like and how that may feel for someone. 

    We have our friend, Pat, today from L.A. She’s going to be sharing her stories. She did have a VBAC and we talk about this often on social media and things like that where people may have a vaginal birth after a Cesarean and it’s the most healing, amazing, beautiful experience and then sometimes it’s not. So I’m excited to hear from Pat today and hear more about her experience. 

    Review of the Week

    But of course, we have a Review of the Week so I’m going to make sure to get into that before Pat starts sharing her story. Just a fair reminder, if you guys have a chance, if you would please leave us a review, we love your reviews as you know. We talk about it all the time but really, they make us smile so much and we love reading them on the podcast. So push pause and go leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

    This specific review is from Sarah. She doesn’t have a subject on it but she says, “I am a birth and postpartum doula who is always on the search for a birthy podcast to listen to in my car. I was so excited when I found The VBAC Link so I could listen to these amazing stories from women all around the world who reached their goals through becoming educated thanks to Meagan and Julie. I recently certified with The VBAC Link as well and I’m impressed by the thorough delivery with which their knowledge was shared in the training. I’m super excited to move into the next chapter of my career and I’m so thrilled to do so with an amazing community and support.” 

    Sarah, I love it. Thank you so much. It is so awesome to have you as one of our VBAC doulas. Birth workers, if you didn’t know out there, we actually have a birth worker course on how to support your VBAC clients because again, we talk about it. It shouldn’t be anything more than just someone going in to have a baby, but with vaginal birth after Cesarean or a Cesarean I should say, and wanting to go for vaginal birth after Cesarean, there are hurdles that a lot of clients have to jump through. It’s so nice to learn how to support them so we have a certification course and we add you to our doula list and share you with the world. 

    So parents, if you are looking for a VBAC doula, go to thevbaclink.com/findadoula and see if there’s a doula near you. 

    Pat’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Pat. I can’t wait. Thank you so much for taking the time today to be with us. 

    Pat: No, thank you for inviting me. I’m so excited. This podcast has been such a big and helpful thing to prepare for my VBAC so thank you for that.

    Meagan: Absolutely, well I’d love to turn the time over to you. 

    Pat: Yeah, I am Spanish so that’s why I have a weird accent but I’ve been living in L.A. for the last ten years with my husband. I have two kids now. One is two and a half and the other one is going to turn ten months in just a little bit. 

    My journey started really late or later than other people here in the states. I always knew I wanted to be a mother but then I saw my friends having kids and saw what that really means to your life, so for a little bit, I was trying to decide whether I could really take on motherhood or not. I knew that if I were to be a mother, it would be in my late thirties. I really wanted to push it which makes sense now because if I hadn’t done that then, I would have different kids. I really believe in destiny and these kids were meant to be for me. So I think I’m happy with that. 

    With that also came a lot of stress from the doctors. All this talk about the extra risks and how difficult or impossible it was going to be to get pregnant at 39. My journey, thank God, wasn’t that hard. I had an IUD, a copper IUD, and I took it out in January 2019. For the first three months, I didn’t get pregnant, but I also had weird pain and my period was really strange. I had an ultrasound and they saw that actually, I had an IUD inside of me even though they took it out. 

    Meagan: What?!

    Pat: Yeah. It was so bizarre. I don’t want to get into details because it will take us the whole hour, but what happened was that someone along the way, and I had an IUD since I was 20 because I had DBT and I couldn’t take hormones so that was the way I chose to go. In those years, someone forgot to take out the old IUD and just pushed a new IUD inside of me. 

    Meagan: Oh my land. 

    Pat: It was crazy to discover that. So anyway, they took it out and three months after that, I was pregnant. That was October-November I think of 2019. So it was fairly quick for my age and everything. I was thrilled. My pregnancy also was super healthy. I did have certain things here and there but nothing that a younger person wouldn’t have. I barely had any morning sickness or anything. I did have a couple of weird symptoms. One of them was palpitations. I didn’t know that I had them and then towards the middle of my pregnancy, I started having not fainting, but lightheaded episodes where I really had to lay down in the street when I was walking my dog around several times 

    We discovered that it was something regarding my breakfast really, so I had a thing for toast with peanut butter in the morning and I guess the way my blood sugar was doing something weird and I was really almost fainting in the street. Once a doctor told me to actually change that for protein and to have protein first in the morning. Immediately, that disappeared. 

    Other than that, everything was great. I was feeling super beautiful with my pregnant belly and I was going for an unmedicated birth. I was really preparing mentally and physically for it. I did Hypnobabies. I was really in my head. I was obsessed with it as a friend of mine recommended me to be if I wanted to achieve it. I was doing all of the work. Everything was going great. 

    Of course, we get into 2020. COVID comes in. My husband was able to still come into the 20-week ultrasound which was awesome, but after that I was alone and there was a lot of stress added to the pregnancy. I feel like it was toward the end of my third trimester that I don’t know why, but my mind started to lose its balance. All of the fear about motherhood came crashing down and the last few weeks, they were full of excitement but also fear. Everybody was like, “Are you so excited?” I was like, “Yeah, but I’m also so scared.” I felt guilty. I couldn’t talk to anyone about that. Because I was scared, people would think I am a bad mother or I’m going to be a bad mother. 

    Anyways, we didn’t hire a doula which is important in this birth story because of COVID but I guess I didn’t know that I was going to need her so much. The doctor told me towards the end of the pregnancy that he was OP but that he could still move. I would feel the baby. He didn’t have space. I could feel that my belly was so tight. I didn’t think that he was going to move. I didn’t know anything about helping him position more than a couple of exercises I saw on Spinning Babies. 

    When the birth started, it was after my 40-week appointment. I wasn’t very dilated. My doctor checked me and I was 1 centimeter and then she said that I wouldn’t probably go into labor for a few days. But then the next day, I woke up with contractions. They were light and just like period cramps every ten minutes. So I was excited but I also was in denial. “This cannot be. I’m only 1 centimeter,” which didn’t matter at all. I’ve learned that now. 

    During the whole day, they went like that. They progressed a little bit in how painful they were, but they were ten minutes apart. Nothing was really happening so I just kept going. I had heard of prodromal labor, so I thought that maybe this was not it. By the time I went to bed, they were 7-10 minutes apart, but they were not super painful but painful enough that I couldn’t sleep during the whole night. 

    Meagan: So tired, I’m sure. 

    Pat: So tired. This was a Friday. So Saturday, it just kept going the same. Actually, the contractions got a little bit weirder. Instead of coming down and getting a pardon, they were all over like seven minutes to ten, five, and they were getting more and more intense as I would go but still, nothing was happening. Basically that night, I tried everything because I called my doctor and she confirmed that it could be prodromal labor. I had the feeling that it wasn’t, that it was labor that was not progressing because nothing would stop it, not any bath, nothing. 

    So that night, I took some Benadryl and could sleep between contractions, but it was a few minutes here and there. But the next day, it was Sunday. I was so tired and then up to this point, I had been trying to move forward with this pregnancy and this birth. I would do exercises but at this point, I was scared because I thought, “I am going to get caught up in this level of pain for two more weeks and I just don’t think I can take it.” I tried to slow it down. I wanted to wait basically. I was also losing my mind a little bit. It was my third day with very little sleep. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know how to cope with contractions, or how to breathe properly. This is where a doula, I think, would have made a difference. 

    Obviously, my baby was not coming down, and just having someone with me that would have helped me position the baby better, I think, would have made a difference but it was what it was at this point. So another night without sleeping and we are on Monday now. The doctor tried to convince me to go in for a membrane sweep, but I really couldn’t get out of the house, so again, I lived in the bath. I was in the bath, in the bath, in the bath. Finally, my water broke a little bit. There was a gush of water but it was yellow. That’s how I could see it. I didn’t know what that meant, but obviously, it meant that there was some meconium. 

    So my doctor told me that since my water broke, she felt comfortable waiting until the next day, but I had to be in the hospital at 7:00 AM on Tuesday. By that night, I think it was 1:00 in the morning when the pain was so bad and my mind was so out of it. I was even regretting being pregnant at this point. Just get me out of here. So basically, I told my husband, “Let’s just go because I don’t know what this is. I want an unmedicated birth but if this is nothing then I really need help because I just cannot go on like this anymore.” 

    So we got there. The triage was horrible. It was hours until I was checked in. Discovering that I was only 3 centimeters was crushing, to say the least. Once I was there, I knew that an epidural would help me sleep and that’s what I needed. So by that time, they still did walking epidurals which I don’t know why they call it that because they don’t let you walk anyways. 

    Meagan: It’s just a lighter epidural essentially. 

    Pat: I know, but they should change the name. Definitely. So that really helped me. I slept for an hour and when my doctor came and checked me in the morning, I was 5 centimeters. I was at 0 station. Basically, the doctor said because of the circumstances, she thought that I had to be around a 6 by the time she came back later on. I thought it was achievable. I had a whole morning. By that time also, I had developed a lot of pain in my left side and in my right side. The right was a sciatica type of pain and the left was just my lower back. It was hurting a lot like my kidney type of thing. 

    I was drinking water and drinking water and I just couldn’t get satiated. I kept laboring in bed. They didn’t mention the OP baby. They didn’t offer a peanut ball. Nothing, so I was there just surviving in bed. They wouldn’t let me get up, so I would sneak in between visits from the nurse and get up with my husband a little bit because I would feel my legs and everything. I needed to get up because it was so excruciating, the pain in my back when I was laying down. 

    The doctor came at 3:00 PM and I was again 5 centimeters. Her fear of infection was clearly high. She was scared for me even if nothing really was happening. At that point, my water really, really, really broke and there was this green, thick layer. It was full of meconium coming out of me which I knew was only a matter of watching it. It didn’t mean that I could not have a vaginal birth, but it was a little concerning. 

    The doctor convinced me to take Pitocin at that point. I started that at 3:30 and the pain in my sides increased. It was more and more difficult to try to stay in bed. A few hours later, I think it was around 9:00 PM, I had blood pressure issues. Everything was starting to pile up. There was a little bit of protein in my urine, but I had been given so many different infusions of liquids that my doctor chose to change one first before giving me my other medicine to see if that worked. That worked, but by that time, for someone who didn’t want any interventions, I was full of tubes everywhere to my uterus with a catheter, it was just really bizarre. 

    During that time, I also had a resident come in. She was the chief of residents and she was one of the sources of my trauma really in the hospital because she was really disrespectful to me not only in her comments. When she saw me in pain, she said, “Oh, you wanted a natural birth so I don’t know what you expected,” and things like that. Also, she came and checked me and she really hurt me. I asked her to stop and instead of stopping, she pushed harder inside of me. 

    Meagan: Oh!

    Pat: I didn’t even know how to react to that because she ignored me and she kept doing it even harder. I felt so violated by that and that just stayed with me. 

    Meagan: I’m so sorry. 

    Pat: Yeah, it was crazy. I continued laboring and the blood pressure resolved. The kidney was failing. They said it was damaged. That was why the protein was coming out on the tests. But with that change of liquids that they gave me, apparently, it just made it better. The pain was still there, but the protein disappeared. My blood pressure came down and that was really it. Around 10:30, following my notes, apparently, the baby’s heart dropped. It lasted more than eight minutes, but it wasn’t a big drop. That was also my first experience with everyone coming into the room screaming. This is another thing. I saw this chief resident talking to my husband about what was happening to me but no one was talking to me. They were yelling at me, “On all fours!”

    That was after I got up and they saw me up, so they were also yelling at me, “What did you do? This is all you. Go back to bed.” I was so scared. Yeah, but nobody was explaining to me what was happening. Luckily, they got that under control and then they explained to me what had happened. They told me to lay on my side really, really still. On that side, it really, really hurt almost like torture. A really well-designed torture. They had stopped Pitocin and they restarted it an hour later. Everything was going well, but again, after a couple of hours, there was another deceleration. We are now at 4:00 AM so it is 24 hours after I had gotten to the hospital. 

    This one was shorter, but it was deeper. I was only 6 centimeters when I had it. I couldn’t even picture myself having a baby frozen in this position. “You cannot do this. You cannot do that.” How am I going to birth a baby then? I was really sad, but I didn’t see any other way out. I had my cry with my husband and then we just went to the OR. 

    It wasn’t an emergency, so we had a minute to process. It was something that needed to be done. My doctor was great at talking to me. This was the first time that she actually came to the hospital after 24 hours, so once she was there, I didn’t have to deal with the chief resident. She is always really respectful and she always talks to me about everything before making a decision so that was great and helped me calm. 

    The surgery went great, but I was so out of it. For example, when they were going to pull out the baby, they lowered the curtain but I couldn’t see. I couldn’t even say it. I didn’t see it. I couldn’t see and I said, “Okay,” then I turned and looked at my husband and at his face. He was looking at our baby being born which also was beautiful, but I was really, really out of it. I think it took them 15 minutes or so to bring the baby. They also raised him, but I only saw the legs. I remember him crying and just realizing that I actually had a baby. It’s a real baby and not a fish that was inside of my belly. It was pretty great. 

    Then they wheeled me into recovery and I was in a lot of pain, but my husband recalls actually that when they brought the baby, he actually said, “I thought you were dying but then they brought the baby and put him on your chest and you were fine.” I didn’t remember that but I keep that as a memory because I thought that was one of the most beautiful things that happened. He also crawled to my breast which was really great. 

    Meagan: Yay. That’s really cool because a lot of times with Cesareans, they don’t allow that to happen so that’s really cool. 

    Pat: Right. No, they were really good at giving me the baby as soon as they could. I also held him in the OR but I wasn’t feeling great and then they took him back. But then this nurse came and without saying anything. I’m in this beautiful moment. The baby latches. I’m just enjoying it and this woman starts punching me in the uterus basically. That’s how it felt. Massaging me and I screamed like I’ve never screamed in my life. It hurt so much. I asked her. Again, she didn’t say anything. I asked her, “What are you doing?” She said, “I have to do this because it’s either this or you’re going to bleed to death.” I said, “But I’m not hemorrhaging or anything. That was just another thing that really impacted me. 

    Meagan: That sticks in your mind, yeah. 

    Pat: Exactly. The flashbacks come afterward. It might not sound like a big deal, but it is a big deal. It’s a really big deal. We went to the room and after that, everything was beautiful getting to know our baby and naming him because we knew that he was a boy but we had different names. He was great. He was drinking. He was wetting the diaper but then because of all of the liquids that I got, first of all, he was 8 pounds, 12 ounces when he was born but almost a pound of that or half a pound of that was liquid. He was so swollen. 

    Meagan: Yes. I want to talk about that because a lot of people don’t realize that’s a thing. We have long labors and we receive a lot of fluid or we receive a lot of antibiotics and all of these fluids, it can actually make our baby bigger than they actually are. So yeah. It’s crazy. You have to have an 8-pound baby come out, but then they’re 7 pounds. It’s scary because it looks like they’ve dropped so much weight and then you’re not thinking that you are feeding your baby right and they’re not getting enough milk when actually, they’re getting rid of that excess fluid. 

    Pat: That was part of the problem. It’s crazy that they don’t know it. 

    Meagan: They don’t talk about that. 

    Pat: The problem was that he was losing so much weight because he was getting out of the liquids but in the process because apparently, all of the liquids threw his pH off so he was dehydrated. He was eating normally but he was dehydrated. After another day, his diaper was dry. I told the nurse, “I don’t think this is normal.” She was like, “No, no. This is normal. Don’t worry.” I was like, “Okay. I guess maybe babies are like that.” But then we had a great lactation consultant and she noticed that he was breathing really fast. 

    They had to take him to the NICU just because of dehydration. It was another setback on the happy ending type of thing. But luckily, he only spent the night and a morning there and he was okay. We took him home. This was already day number four in the hospital. From then on, he thrived. We had to do for a little bit, I think it’s called a [inaudible] feeding thing just to make sure he was gaining weight but it was really obvious from the get-go that my milk was enough for him and he was good with it so after a week, we weaned him out of the bottle and he was only breastfeeding, gaining weight, and everything was great. 

    Yeah, I had a lot of emotions but my postpartum was really good. I think that has a lot to do with my placenta encapsulation but I will never know I guess. 

    Meagan: I know. I love placenta encapsulation myself. So yeah. 

    Pat: So yeah, second baby. I remember a nurse in my room. I was actually getting wheeled to the OR and I had a nurse talking to me, “Don’t worry, honey. You can have a VBAC.” I was like, “I don’t know about this VBAC, but I’m telling you that I’m not having more kids.” 

    So that VBAC thing stuck with me. I started having baby fever really early on like six months postpartum. I thought my baby was so cute, I thought, “I want another baby.” My husband was a little resistant but I knew that I was going to convince him so in the meantime, I started listening to The VBAC Link Podcast. It was a great source of learning. I’ve always loved birth stories, but this was really specific. Listening to so many Cesarean stories, I could also understand better what happened to me and maybe make a plan for why I didn’t want it to repeat again in the future. 

    When I got pregnant, I got pregnant on the first try. I just want to say it again because I was 42 at the time. I was 41.5. I turned 42 when I was pregnant. Age doesn’t have to be an impediment to having kids. Every person is a person. Statistics don’t represent you. I want people to have hope for that. This pregnancy went also really well. The symptoms were a little bit worse. I didn’t have extreme nausea or anything, but it was a little bit worse. Not too bad, but a little bit worse. I hear that happens with second babies and third. 

    At this moment, what I was more focused on was my VBAC. Of course, I wanted to go unmedicated too, but I really wanted to do everything possible to have a vaginal birth. I hired this doula. I live in L.A. and there is this famous doctor who everyone goes to. I thought, “I love my doctor, but she already was talking about how she follows a certain procedure at the hospital.” At 39 weeks, she recommended being induced and all of that stuff. I just thought, “She’s great, but I really want to have the best chance. If they call this guy the king of VBACs, shouldn’t I go with him?” I went with him and he was really hopeful about my VBAC. He has a weird personality. He’s really nice but at the same time, he is just not everyone’s cup of tea and not my cup of tea in a lot of different things. 

    I had a little bit of a red flag for certain things that he was trying to force on me. When I would tell him, “I don’t want this or I don’t want that,” he would just get mad basically and try to push it. I was going away from having to convince my doctors of what I wanted for my birth so I landed on a guy who was supposed to be– it felt to me at the time– the only way of having a VBAC and having to have the same fights with him, it felt really confusing. I think it’s really important to know that because a provider might be VBAC-supportive, it doesn’t mean that they are not also intervention-supportive which is what happened with this guy basically. 

    I continued with him because I was really scared to not have my VBAC unless I was with him. 

    Meagan: Right, because everybody around is like, “Go here.” 

    Pat: Yeah, and here’s another thing. I could find maybe one or two medium reviews, but all of the reviews about him in all of the VBAC groups were like, “No, this is a great guy.” 

    Meagan: This is the person, yeah. 

    Pat: People don’t want to tell bad stories. They don’t want to talk badly about the doctor then what are you doing then? You are just protecting this doctor. You are not protecting women or people that are birthing. 

    Meagan: Well, and what’s hard too is even though one provider may be very VBAC-supportive and be very cohesive with that patient, it doesn’t mean that he or she is going to be an amazing VBAC-supportive doctor, but may not still fit the same desires. They can be VBAC-supportive but they might not be the right provider for everybody else. 

    Pat: Yes, yes. I wish I could have read a little bit more about him because then just talking to other women in the group privately, they would say, “Yeah,” and most of the people had a good experience with him, but I wish I would have been able to read or find these reviews because that maybe would have made a difference in trying to find another VBAC-supportive provider. But I stuck with him. 

    Everything went well. I had no problems that could have been related to age or problems at all. It was a normal, healthy pregnancy. I had been really careful of my positioning during the pregnancy so baby wouldn’t be OP but he was OP too. By that time, we didn’t know he was a he. I knew that it doesn’t matter he’s OP. It’s another baby. It’s another birth. I have a doula now. If I get stuck in another 4-day or 5-day birth, this person is going to help me get through it. I believe I can do it. I just need help. That’s it. 

    Meagan: Well, and it would probably shorten it because they would probably know and have some tools that would hopefully help. 

    Pat: Which she did because my story, with this second baby went really similarly. I actually was 39 weeks pregnant this time. I don’t know if it was all of the cleaning I did or my two-year-old, my one-year-old then had this huge tantrum, one that he never had. He cried in my arms for two hours and I felt my first contraction when I was with him. From there, it started the same way. Really low-key, a cramping feeling that went a little bit up during the day but nothing was happening either. 

    But then at night, I tried to sleep and I was in so much pain. I was having really huge contractions. We are still cosleeping basically. My toddler was there. My husband was there and my body didn’t feel free enough to move things forward. My husband had me labor during the night, but in the morning, it went down. The contractions, I didn’t even time but in the morning they were back to 7-10 minutes and less painful but still really intense. I remember I kept cleaning. I did a set of exercises to get things going from Spinning Babies. 

    Meagan: Three Sisters? 

    Pat: The [inaudible] one. 

    Meagan: Oh, yes. I know what you’re talking about. 

    Pat: There were a bunch of exercises you could do so I did all of them. Here’s another thing that I recommend to people who have had trauma in their first births. I thought, “I’ve got it.” I thought, “I have processed this. I am okay.” I even wrote a script about witches. It’s named The Resident. I thought I had processed it but I didn’t so when things were really starting to get similar to my first birth, my mind got out of whack. I lost it and I remember crying to my sister-in-law, “This is the same as with Liam. It’s going to be five days. I’m going to end with a Cesarean.” Totally negativity that I didn’t need at that moment. 

    Meagan: You spiraled. Yeah. I did that too. 

    Pat: I spiraled, yeah. So you really need to process your first birth before going into a VBAC. But I could feel that things were different. I felt the body recharge that I never had. I could feel my hips hurting a lot which meant something was happening down there so that kept me hopeful. My husband told me, “Listen. I saw you with our first. This is different. You are so much more advanced right now. You never got to this point.” 

    Meagan: But in your mind, you’re relating to what you know. 

    Pat: I know and also your mind is not a rational mind in that moment. It is full of fear and you’ve been told that you cannot do this, so why would you think you can do it? That’s where your mind goes in that moment. My doula came finally that afternoon and she had me breathe through the contractions which I think was key because from there on, I could relax with them and I got in the bath and everything felt more controlled. 

    One of the things that she actually had me do for the last couple of months before the birth was sleeping with two or three pillows in between my legs as if it was a peanut ball or a peanut ball. I had a bunch of pillows. I feel like that was key too because my hips are not too wide for how tall I am. I feel that keeping my hips open really helped this time. 

    That night, the second night, I went to bed with a Benadryl again and I woke up at 1:00 or so. I was in a lot of pain. Really big contractions that you couldn’t sleep through. Again, I went to the bath and the counterpressure really helped. It really, really helped. It was one of the things that helped me the most. I had the HypnoBabies in my first pregnancy, but it never got to really help me at all. It’s really funny just singing a song in my mind. It was Yellow by Coldplay. Not even loud in my mind. Every contraction and that was it. I could go through them. It was just crazy. 

    Meagan: I did the same thing with Believe by Whitney Houston. 

    Pat: It was a random song also. 

    Meagan: “If you believe,” and singing it in my head, and then I ended up making a slideshow video with that song. It just connected to me. 

    Pat: That’s so cute. Yeah. It was magic. I think it was 3:00 or 4:00 AM in the morning. It was intense enough that I thought, “If I keep going then I might have him in the car.” I would feel different things in my hips. I could feel a little bit of the movement going down. It was like, “No, no. This is different.” I’m now going to get there and I’m going to be just 3 centimeters. If not, I don’t understand birth at all. 

    So we went to the hospital. It was 40 minutes away, 30 with traffic. It was bad but not horrible because of Coldplay. When I got there, it was amazing because I had a really strong contraction and the nurses just put me in a room. 

    Meagan: You didn’t have to be in triage for 3 hours. 

    Pat: If you go to the hospital, just have a really, really, really big contraction so you don’t have to wait there for 3 hours. So yeah, I got checked. I of course didn’t want a resident around me so I had a midwife team. The midwife checked me and I was 10 centimeters she said but I had a bulging bag so I was 8 centimeters. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Sometimes a bag can overstretch the cervix and then the bag breaks and the cervix relaxes. It seems like they check and they’re like, “We don’t feel any cervix,” but then the bag goes away and they’re like, “Oh. There’s some cervix left.” So that’s probably what happened. 

    Pat: I was not even defeated because I thought, “I am still 8 centimeters. I never made it through 6.” 

    Meagan: Huge. Huge. Yeah. 

    Pat: I was so proud of myself, but I must say that when I got there, I was walking into the room and my doctor came in. He looked so tired. He had two births before me. What he said was, “Don’t tell me you are in labor.” I’m like, “I am in labor.” You could tell he was not there. He was tired which I understand, but I still feel like you have to be professional. You cannot tell that to a birthing woman. That’s where the problems with him started. It didn’t feel good but I forgot about it. I had my midwife and I was mostly laboring with her. He would just come in and out. 

    I thought I was doing it. I didn’t want an epidural. I was laboring in the room. I was really tired, but the baby also was really high like -3. He was not down but it didn’t worry me too much. I kept going. I kept going for two or three hours. In between, my doctor came and checked me but there was no progress. At some point, I guess I wasn’t coping as well. I think I was just getting into transition because in between contractions, I was like, “Ohh,” like kind of fainting. I felt like my body needed rest. Two days laboring with this kid felt much more than five days laboring with my other kid, so I don’t know. 

    My doula suddenly said, “You know, I know you want an unmedicated birth, but I just don’t think you are going to progress if you don’t take the epidural.” I understand she said that because she was scared for me not to have my VBAC but also, I feel like it was early in the game. Why don’t we try other things before that? 

    But it was true because basically what I thought– my husband though was my huge supporter. He was like, “No, no, no. You’re doing great. You can do this. You can do this.” He still tells me nowadays, “If you could have heard me and not the doula–”. I was like, “Supposedly, doulas have so much experience–”. 

    Meagan: Sometimes, an epidural is a great tool. There’s this spot where we get in labor where we’re tense and we’re not really letting our body go, so an epidural can come into great play and allow us to finish out that cervix and that dilation and that process, but yeah. If you didn’t want one then there are other things you could do. Different positioning and coping and breathing and water. 

    Pat: I think that’s what she saw. She saw that I was too tense and that was not going to go anywhere. So I said, “Okay. I’m going to wait half an hour and if I did not progress, then I will consider it. It would be the right thing. It makes sense.” This was almost four hours from the moment we got there. When we got checked, I hadn’t progressed and I accepted the epidural. 

    Meagan: Did your water break? Was it bulging and then they broke it or was it still bulging? 

    Pat: The doctor broke it a little bit but just enough so that it would just come out a little bit and come down, but he didn’t break my waters completely. They actually broke when I was laboring in the room. It was really funny because it was gallons of clear water which was a different experience. It was like, “This is so clear. This is so clear.” But it was gallons and gallons of water coming out of my body. It was crazy. 

    But yeah. After the epidural, I rested. At that point, they didn’t have the option of the walking epidural anymore so it was a normal epidural but I could still feel my legs and a little bit of pressure. It was good but I could rest. I couldn’t sleep but I could rest. Two or three hours after that, I was already at a 9.5 and I had a cervical lip. Oh, in between that also– this is an important piece of information. These are things I want to forget so I forget to tell them. 

    The doctor came in. He was coming in and out. This was probably at 12:30 or 1:00. He said, “Well, I have a dinner at 5:30 so we need to start pushing at 2:00.” I’m like, “Okay.” And he left. I didn’t know if it was a joke or if it was true but it turns out that he really had a family dinner at 5:30. It turns out that also I was ready and I was almost ready to push, but I was fully dilated by 1:30. That lip really went away. The midwife put me on my side and it was great. She was amazing. I wish everything would have happened just with her. 

    I started pushing. The pushing phase was really weird to me because I was expecting it to feel good and they were like, “Okay, you’re ready to push. Do you want to push?” I was like, “I guess.” 

    Meagan: Disconnected. 

    Pat: Disconnected. Totally disconnected like, “What am I doing here? I don’t understand what’s happening.” I pushed for an hour or so. I asked for the mirror to see what was happening. That was cool but also got me a little bit discouraged because I could see the little advancement with the push. When I was more advanced or ready, they called the doctor. The baby was doing fine. He had a couple of moments where his heartbeat was taking a little longer to come back, so I could see my midwife calling the doctor, but he wasn’t concerned so we kept going. 

    I think it was one hour into pushing that he came and turned on the lights, propped me up, changed the way I was pushing, and just sat in front of me with a boring face and said, “Okay, let’s see.” It was just not the kind of person you wanted there. 

    Meagan: Impersonal, yeah. 

    Pat: Yeah, really impersonal. He was also yelling at people like the nurses. He was in a really bad mood. Yeah. Everything was getting weird. I already had this weird feeling of, “What is happening?” I don’t know. I cannot really describe that but it was this fight or flight mode that you get when you’re birthing that makes your baby come. That’s what started happening to me. The thing is that I kept pushing and pushing and pushing and little by little, there was some progress. 

    At some point though, he started to mention how he wanted me to get a little bit more of the epidural, but I talked to my doula and to my husband. I really wanted to feel what was happening, but then he kept going on about how if I had the epidural it was going to be better because he was going to have to stitch me and then, “Oh, that hurts a lot,” and then this and this and this. He kept going into my head. I really regret this, but I let him convince me and I got a little bit more of the epidural. 

    At that point, all of the pressure disappeared. I could feel but yet I couldn’t feel as much. After that, when the epidural was already in, he said, “You know what? The head of the baby is coming in and out, in and out, in and out. What if I take a vacuum and I use in only just to hold the head of the baby in the same space in between contractions?” I had heard this on a birth story. It worked for the mother. This was two and a half hours into pushing so I said, “Yes, yes. Let’s do it,” because I could see in the mirror that that was true and that was happening. 

    He put the vacuum on and they closed– I don’t know. I closed my eyes and when I opened them because everyone was telling me, “Open them. Open your eyes. The baby is coming.” He’s basically yanking the baby out of me. This is all how I felt that it happened. I’m sure the other side is different. This is where my problem comes with this VBAC and it’s just that I felt I was tricked into using an intervention that I didn’t want. The baby was born at 4:45 basically. 

    Meagan: Right before dinner. 

    Pat: The other thing is that he had the baby. The baby was crying. It was a boy which was super exciting to discover. He was pink and one of the other things I had told him was that I wanted that baby on my stomach. One of the things I missed in my other birth was the feeling of this high when they put the baby on your chest and he knew. I had told him so many times. He had the baby and he kept cleaning him up, cleaning him up, cleaning him up. I have a file of pictures where I’m holding out my hands to grab him and I retract them until I just snatched the baby out of him basically. 

    Meagan: Give me my baby. Give me my baby. 

    Pat: Give me my baby. Give me my baby. I breathed out this moment of rage and I could be present with my baby. I welcomed him and everything was great. From that moment on, nobody took him away from me. I held him and he felt so familiar. I felt like our family was complete. At least that feeling wasn’t taken away from me, just the joy of welcoming my baby. 

    Everything in the postpartum was great, but I really struggled. I struggled a little bit. I don’t think it was depression but the baby blues were really hard on me for 2-3 weeks. I couldn’t stop crying all the time. I would remember my VBAC and I felt really guilty. I even remember the midwife, “You got your VBAC. You got your VBAC.” It was like, “Yeah, I got my VBAC.” I’m glad. I didn’t want a C-section, but this is not what I wanted. I feel so robbed. I feel robbed and it’s so bad of a feeling to have. 

    Meagan: Yeah. You did. You got your VBAC. Everybody on the outside is like, “Yay. This is what you wanted,” but it was very traumatic getting there. It was really positive and then it took a spin and things happened to you that reflected not as positively. We’ve talked about this back when Julie and I were together too. You can be grateful for your vaginal birth after a Cesarean. You can be grateful for your CBAC, your Cesarean birth after Cesarean. You can be grateful for your birth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grieve another experience or be upset. You don’t have to have one without the other. They can go together. Unfortunately, you have this space now where you’re like, “Yeah, I did, but I reflect differently than everyone might think.”

    Pat: Yeah. I feel like all the work that I did, he just took it away from me because he was in a rush and it wasn’t necessary. 

    Meagan: Yeah, I’m so sorry. 

    Pat: I’m processing it. You can focus on the positive things, but it’s not great. 

    Meagan: Well, congratulations on your baby boy. 

    Pat: Thank you. 

    Meagan: But yeah, I think that’s something to note and it’s so hard. We as doulas here had a client who said the same thing, “I knew I didn’t want this. We went over this with you. We all went over it, but for some reason, I just went with what the doctor said.” It’s so hard not to. We are in this very vulnerable space and they have this way sometimes– I’m not going to say all the time– but projecting this, “You have to make decisions right now” or “You have to do this or this scary thing will happen.” 

    I don’t think that they really realize how their speaking to us impacts us as birthing women, but it does. It does. The things they say and even like you said, he sat down and gave you a blank stare. “All right, let’s see what we can do here.” Just that right there takes away from someone’s space. Providers, doulas, if you are listening, anybody who is entering a birth space, please make sure that whatever is going on in your personal life, whatever is taking over at that moment, leave it at the door. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard. As a doula, if there’s ever a situation where I have that, I might need to call my partner because if I can’t shut that off and join this beautiful space and hold space for my clients, then maybe I shouldn’t be there. 

    It’s hard because these providers are just going to be there but we have to be mindful. We have to be more mindful of how we present ourselves, what comes out of our mouths, and again, the actions that are done to us because they impact us so much. So I’m sorry that that did happen and I’m sorry that along the way, you had to go back and forth in everything. I am happy for you but at the same time, I grieve with you. I feel you.

    I am so sorry. So sorry, but congratulations at the same time. 

    Pat: Thank you so much. I feel like you really understand. When I’m telling this story, not everybody understands why it hurt me so much. I feel that you and your community probably will understand. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. We understand. We hear you. We feel you. We’ve been there. I really appreciate you and I know you are 10 months postpartum, but we’re still here. We’re still here to help you heal through this journey. 

    Pat: Thank you so much.


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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    53m | Mar 15, 2023
  • Episode 225 Heather's VBAC + Postpartum Depression + Patient Advocacy

    “I knew I was having a daughter this time. I was like, ‘I’m going to approach this as the model that I want her to have. I want her to know that she is empowered to make whatever choices she needs to in life and I need to practice that now.’”

    Though Heather’s two birth outcomes were very different, the most inspiring part is what Heather fought for within herself. Heather went from knowing she had a voice and being afraid to use it to knowing her voice and making sure it was heard. 

    In the depths of depression and anxiety, Heather continued to be proactive and choose healing. Through vulnerability, therapy, patient advocacy, medication, and staying attentive to her needs, Heather’s second postpartum experience was drastically better than the first. 

    Additional Links

    Heather's Website

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Welcome to The VBAC Link, guys. This is Meagan, your host, and today we have our friend Heather. She is from Kentucky and she is sharing her amazing story. One of the highlights of her story that we’re going to be talking about is postpartum depression which is something I’m really excited to talk more about because postpartum in general and Heather, maybe you would agree, I feel like it’s even more sometimes in preparing for a VBAC because we’re so hyper-focused on the birth and having this vaginal birth and avoiding a Cesarean and all of the interventions. I mean, really. We’re just so hyper-focused that we forget what comes after. 

    Not just recovery after, but mentally and physically. All of the things, and so I’m really excited that you are going to touch on this today and I already want to thank you for your knowledge because I’m excited to hear what you have to say. 

    Review of the Week

    Okay, I have a review of the week and then we’re going to go into it. Does that sound good? 

    Heather: Great. 

    Meagan: This is actually a review of The VBAC Link course. This is from Ashley and she says, “TOLAC/VBACs should be treated just like any other birthing person but there is a certain preparation and information that needs to be offered to them and this course covered that. The value is held in your careful recognition of how to best support our clients who are doing a TOLAC.” I’m assuming Ashley is reviewing the doula course in this one. She says, “I cannot praise you two enough for the fear release activity. Honestly, it is something I can apply to even myself before and after birth and even in life in general. Thank you for that. It has already helped three of my VBAC clients.” 

    Even starting right there talking about processing and fear release before going into birth can ultimately help us in our postpartum stages. 

    Heather: Absolutely, yeah. That’s a big part of, I think, what I was working through in my second pregnancy. 

    Heather’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, well then let’s turn the time over to you. 

    Heather: Well thank you so much. I’m really humbled to be here today. I’ve heard so many amazing stories and I wasn’t sure that mine was really amazing enough, but I really just feel so strongly that talking about postpartum depression is important even now, even five years out of recovering still that I just really want to be there to help others who need that light. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. 

    Heather: All right, so I got pregnant with Theo in 2017. We made the decision in March and literally the weekend I had my birth control out, we looked at each other, and bam. We were pregnant. 

    Meagan: Oh no way. 

    Heather: So I was like, “Oh my gosh. This is amazing. Oh my gosh. I’m terrified.” I had no chance to really start processing this. I was still weaning down from my depression medication. I had been in treatment for depression a few years prior. I had been out of it but still on medication. I was feeling good. I was feel pretty stable. I thought going off of my medication was going to be great. 

    So we find ourselves pregnant and oh man, that pregnancy was hard. I was sick. I was exhausted. I’m a performing musician and teacher of music, so I was getting through my days with little kids and getting to gigs and driving and throwing up in the car on the highway. 

    Meagan: Oh, bless your heart. 

    Heather: I’m still processing this whole, “Wow. Our lives are going to change.” I was really excited too, obviously. I was really happy to be starting this but we were really apprehensive heading into that. I was due Christmas Day that year, so starting in November, we started getting serious about birth prep. We did a very comprehensive birth course. I was seeing midwives for my care during that pregnancy and I thought they were just really great. They had the same view I did. I was really happy with the care I was receiving. It was very encouraging and just like, “Whatever it is that you want, we will get this for you.” 

    The hospital I was going to deliver in had nitrous. It had one room with a tub. It had showers in every room. It had obviously the epidural and the IV meds. I felt good about the options, although something inside of me really wanted a more natural kind of experience. I think looking back, I really did want a home birth, but I was scared and it’s expensive, so this is the direction that we went in. 

    Our birth prep, like I said, was very comprehensive and on top of that, I was reading books. I was making sure that I was informed in case of a Cesarean. I knew about the cascade of interventions and coping with contractions and stuff. 

    We got to the end of that video class and oh my gosh. So they do this, “Congratulations. You’re going to have a baby.” I was just like, “Oh my god.” I was terrified. To be perfectly honest, my husband wasn’t much better. It was about another four weeks before I actually went into labor since that moment and it was an exciting time. I got through 39 weeks at work and then I stepped back because as an organist, I wasn’t going to be playing the day before my due date. 

    My due date came and went and he didn’t come. I was very thankful for that because as an organist, I did not want to have a baby on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day would have been preferable frankly. 

    Meagan: I was going say, did you guys have performances at all? So you took a step back but did you have Christmas stuff at all? 

    Heather: I had backed off by the week before Christmas. 

    Meagan: Oh that’s so nice. So you completely stopped. 

    Heather: Yes. So 39 weeks on, I was on maternity leave. I had some Braxton Hicks, nothing really, not moving too much. I got to 40 weeks. My mom came. 40+1, we go for a walk. 40+2 I think is when I had my next appointment with my midwife who was one of the two midwives I had seen in the office and she was the one who actually was still doing hospital deliveries so we were like, “Okay, let’s get in to see her a few more times in case I possibly see her,” which I did. 

    We decided to do a stretch and sweep. It kind of went. It was possible. I was pretty high and closed and stuff, but I think the sweep worked. I didn’t really experience much from that. My mom was like, “Well, I’m going to go see my sister in the other state,” so we had some space again which was really nice to have. 

    Thursday that week, I go to my massage guys who are also acupuncturists and I was like, “Get this baby out of me.” They were wonderful people. They are not prenatal or anything. One of them is from India and he was like, “So your baby is a little bit over here and is not pushing on your cervix.” He just lightly touched my belly and it was so gentle. Then I had some acupuncture and they left me to chill. 

    Then Friday comes the next day and that evening, I just had a sense. I was like, “Hmm.” I don’t know. I was just feeling this. So that night, I went to bed on the couch downstairs. My husband was upstairs. I woke up around 3:00 or 4:00 AM and I’m like, “Yeah. I’m having contractions.” I was like, “Okay, early labor. I’ve got to rest.” So I went and crawled into bed with my husband and that was just a no-go. It was too painful. 

    I pretty quickly got out of there. Mostly, I would labor bending over, leaning over something. We did lots of different places. I was at home for a good 7-8 hours probably. I was feeling pretty good in early labor there. I just had some food, keeping it light. My husband was packing his bag because of course, he hadn’t packed ahead of time. 

    I guess contractions probably started around 4ish. I took a bath. I know you’re not supposed to slow them down, but I was like, “I need to rest.” 

    Meagan: This is the thing with taking a bath. I don’t want to say full-blown labor like you’re not in labor at all, but if it’s going to progress, it’s going to progress and water’s not going to stop it. If your body responds by slowing down and taking a break, that’s probably what it needed. 

    Heather: Yeah. It still continued. He would put Netlifx shows on for me. He’d put stuff on for me. I’d be breathing through the contractions. After the bath, I guess shower, then bath. I don’t really know. I started having to moan through contractions and they started, “Okay. I’m doing my low breathing. I’m feeling good.” I was feeling like, “Okay. I’ve been prepared so far.”

    Around 11:30-noonish, things started changing and I started getting antsy and anxious. Contractions started coming much closer together. It was probably about three minutes apart. They’d been a minute long for hours at that point, so we knew that we were really in labor. I was definitely starting to get that worry, that anxiety going then. It was like, “We’re not at the hospital.” We weren’t far from the hospital, but I was like, “We need to get there.” 

    I remember I was using the bathroom and laying down was a no-go. The toilet was absolutely excruciating. It was really intense when I hit a contraction. My dear, sweet husband comes and jokingly brings me something to put on that was lacey underwear or something like that. I was like, “You just do this. We need to go.” I was not having any of it at that point.

    So it was like, “Okay. We’re definitely ready to go.” We got in the car probably at about 12:30 and we head to the hospital. Man, the car ride contractions were not fun. I’m going, “Ohhh.” I start going, “We’re going to have a baby.” 

    Meagan: All the emotions. 

    Heather: All the emotions. I mean, it was funny but it was also like, I was starting to become a little unhinged there. I had gotten out of my safe, comfortable, “I’m in a space. I’m in a zone.” Looking back on it, I realize now that I was starting to experience back labor. That was still a whole extra level of, “Oh my god. I’m not prepared. This is really intense.”

    We got there. I insisted on walking the whole way. 

    Meagan: Probably good for you though. 

    Heather: That’s what I was thinking. I was like, “I don’t want to have interventions. I want to get there as late as possible so I’m going to walk.” Every 30 feet, we were stopping to moan through things. We go to where we think triage check-in is and it’s moved because they were doing work. So we were standing there and my husband’s calling the midwives to come from across the hall. It was ridiculous, but the midwife was like, “Let’s get you a chair.” I didn’t really want it, but they could tell that I was in labor. 

    I get to triage and they check me and I was 5 centimeters. I was so excited. I was a first-time mom. I’m halfway there. This is awesome. I’m freaking out though. So I’m freaking out and I’m there and okay. It’s time to admit me. I knew my preferences. I knew in my heart what I wanted and I didn’t ask for that. 

    Meagan: You can’t say it probably right? 

    Heather: Yeah. I thought, “I want a water birth. I want to ask for the tub room, but what if I don’t end up doing a water birth and I’m occupying it and I’m taking it from somebody else?” All these I would say people pleaser things came in. I was like, “You know, I want to get in the shower. I want to labor back in the shower,” but I was starting to shake. I was getting scared. I was getting more and more scared and just feeling out of control. 

    So I was just like, “I’m progressed enough. I want an epidural,” even though I knew I didn’t really want an epidural. I was having this back labor. I had been laboring for a long time. I was 40+5 and I was tired. You’re not sleeping well by that point. 

    The midwife was great. She was supporting me. She was applying back pressure and a lot of tailbone pressure, especially with the back labor and it was really helpful, but I eventually got the epidural. The first one didn’t take. They did another one immediately and that one only half worked. They put me on my left side because I could feel my contractions all the way down my left thigh. It was really, really intense. The medicine worked that way. I guess we got some sleep. A few hours later, they come to move me to my right side. A few hours later, they move me so I’m sitting with my legs and knees out. That was all they moved me. 

    I couldn’t really move. Over the course of having to move, the epidural definitely started wearing off on my left side again. Then shift change happens around 8:00 PM and the midwife that I had been seeing comes on. I was so happy. I was so happy to have her because she was wonderful. She comes in and the room is dark. She checks me and I’m complete. Well, I’m almost complete. She’s like, “there’s a bulging bag of water. We could break them and start pushing or hold off on pushing. What do you want to do?” 

    That voice inside again says, “I want to labor down. I want to have some time to really feel the urge to push,” but baby was having some heart irregularities, so I was like, “Well, then let’s go ahead and break my waters. We’ll start pushing.” Even though in my mind, that really wasn’t what I wanted. 

    Meagan: Your intuition it seemed like so far has been saying one thing, but then your voice said something else. Your mind talks you into something else. 

    Heather: Absolutely. I think that’s really the motif throughout that whole labor. My intuition was in one way and what I was agreeing to and saying I was okay with was another. My midwife was very great. She wasn’t pushy, but having a baby who has nonreassuring heart tones, not dangerous yet was like, “Okay. I’ve got to consider this as well.” So on one hand, I wasn’t thrilled to be accepting breaking my waters, but I wanted to know that he was in a good position. I didn’t know it was a he, but I wanted to know that baby was in a good position, but the labor nurses were like, “Oh yeah. Baby’s ready. Baby’s ready.” 

    Meagan: And you don’t really know about back pain at this point. You kind of maybe do because it’s half working, but you’re not feeling it the way you were feeling it so you couldn’t even really identify where he was at. 

    Heather: Yeah, exactly. I’m a first-time mom. 

    Meagan: You don’t know what you don’t know. 

    Heather: No, you don’t. We start pushing and they were pretty good about letting me push on my sides and on my back. They would turn me to my left side and I would push. They would turn me to my right side. I would push. I did a lot of pushing on my back which was probably where the more effective pushing was happening. 

    At this point, my temperature has been climbing so that was one of the reasons why my midwife wanted to break my waters was because my temperature had climbed a bit. She said, “Sometimes with an epidural, that can happen but if it keeps going and it becomes a fever then we know that it’s not the epidural and it’s an infection.” I’m thinking, “Okay, then we’ve got to get this baby out.” 

    I’m pushing and an hour goes by. My husband is watching me get sicker and sicker. My temperature finally breaks into a fever around 9:30-9:45 PM. By this point, I definitely have a fever. Baby’s heart is not tolerating it well and I’ve not made much progress in pushing. So my midwife starts consulting with the obstetrician who is overseeing her who comes in and she says, “We need to get this baby out. Our options are C-section and vacuum.” 

    I’m like, “Well, I definitely don’t want a C-section.” So she goes off to get ready for the vacuum. Now, she doesn’t feel that she can do the vacuum because I guess she had an injury or something so she goes and gets the other obstetrician that night to go and do the vacuum. So they’re back ten minutes later. I’m still pushing. I’m still feeling it. My epidural has worn off even more by this point so I’m really feeling the contractions and feeling them build. I’m working with them. I’m feeling like that was a good experience. I appreciated having that knowledge especially when into my second birth. 

    I didn’t really know much about a vacuum. I figured, “Oh, it might be assisting in pushing. I’d push a bit.” They’d assist the baby out over a period of time is what I was expecting. After a couple of pushes with the vacuum, the obstetrician who had come on, not the one who was doing the vacuum but the other one, says, “I’d like to do an episiotomy. Is that okay?” I said, “No. I do not want an episiotomy.” We push again. 

    The next contraction after that, she’s like, “Okay. I need to do an episiotomy. You’re going to tear anyway.” I talked to my husband and I was like, “Okay, fine.” 

    Meagan: Oh, love. I love you and you’re not alone where you’re like, “Fine. I just want this baby out.” 

    Heather: Yeah. I didn’t really understand that that was coercion at the time. 

    Meagan: Yeah, because you are vulnerable. 

    Heather: So vulnerable. I was sick. I had a fever. 

    Meagan: I was going to say that you didn’t feel well probably. 

    Heather: No, my husband was seeing me get sicker and sicker like I said. By this point, it’s probably about 10:00 PM. I’ve been pushing for over two hours. I have a fever. I just consented to something that I really didn’t want going into it. The next contraction comes and I’m feeling all of this movement down there. I’m thinking, “Oh my god. He’s out.” They’re like, “Vacuum just popped off for the third time and we can’t do it anymore.” I’m like, “What?!”

    Meagan: At this point, they had done the episiotomy. 

    Heather: Yeah. They hadn’t told me that it had popped off at all. I didn’t know where we were in that process. 

    Meagan: There was no communication. 

    Heather: There was not that communication. It was just, “You’re going to tear anyway.” A certainty. “You’re going to have this baby vaginally and you’re going to tear so you need an episiotomy.”

    Meagan: So you made the decision with the understanding that this baby was then going to come. 

    Heather: By that point, we really had no choices. I was pretty sick. I could feel the contractions. I wanted baby out. 

    Meagan: Yeah. You just want it to be over. 

    Heather: My midwife was there the whole time. She helped coordinate getting my husband to the OR. They turned up my medicine. They wheeled me down. She brings him in after they’ve determined that I’m numb enough which I almost wasn’t. This is the OB who cut me and that’s who she is. When I talk in conversation about my birth, that’s where my mind goes and that’s really what was like, “Wow. That was obstetric violence. She cut me.” 

    I just can’t process it any other way. She almost put me under because they had to numb me and she thought it was an emergency. In my mind, I’m hearing her say to the anesthesiologist, “If the next time, she’s not numbed, we’re going to have to put her under.” My mind is going, “No. Don’t let me. Tell them no. Tell them you do not consent to go under.” Fortunately, they didn’t put me under, but the medicine was high. My husband was there next to me and my midwife was there as a support person. They performed the C-section and my midwife was like, “Do you hear that baby crying? That’s your baby.” That was beautiful. It really was. 

    We didn’t know the sex, so she brought my husband over to the warmer where he was and he came back. He whispered in my ears, “You have a son,” which was a really beautiful moment too. They bring Theo over and I get to kiss him a little bit. I can’t really hold him. I want to ask if I can hold him, but I don’t. But I also just needed to sleep at that point. He was born at 10:38 PM and I had been going since 4:00 AM so I was exhausted. 

    They take him away. Apparently, he was having some breathing issues so I sent my husband with him. They went to the nursery together. I want to back up and say though that while we were having this C-section discussion, the one thing I asked for was delayed cord clamping. That was the one thing and the OB said no. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Can I ask for a clear drape? You want a clear drape. Ask for this.” I knew the things that I could ask for. I didn’t though. I had already just said no to an episiotomy. I just had one anyway. I had just been told no to delayed cord clamping. I think I was just almost out of fight. 

    Meagan: Well, yeah. Like I was saying earlier, it’s to the point where sometimes in labor, we want to use our voice but we can’t. We’re using it in our heads, but we can’t get it out. It’s just this weird thing. I could probably see you too just being like, “I give up. Everything I did want, I’m being told no, or the opposite has happened to me.” 

    Heather: Yeah. That was something I really had to process through. Where was that voice? Where was I? Where were we working together and where were we not working together my voice and me? But he goes to the nursery and because I had developed an infection, they wanted to get him an IV and antibiotics as well. He was there for a long time. I was alone in recovery. At that point, I was like, “I just want to sleep.” At one point, my midwife and the obstetrician came in to have a talk afterward. What I remember from that talk was basically like, “You have a small pelvis. You have an incision where you could have a VBAC, but I think your pelvis is too small.” I was just like, “That sounds ridiculous.”

    Meagan: Yeah. You’re like, “I know better. I know better.”

    Heather: I knew better. I knew better. I knew that was ridiculous. Even in recovery, I felt like I timed out because of the fever more than anything and I timed out also because I didn’t have a lot of movement going on. There was no continual positioning during labor. I had been born via C-section. I was OP. That had been in the back of my mind in preparation. I was like, “I’m going to help this baby get into good positions.” I knew the positions to help me. I knew these things and I still ended up with a C-section. 

    The hospital stay, unfortunately, was not better. I finally met him and got to hold him at about 3:00 or 5:00 AM. I’m not sure. It was a really long separation and that was a really hard separation to come to terms with. When he finally came into the room with my husband, we tried breastfeeding and it didn’t really work. He didn’t latch and then we just went to sleep. The lactation consultants came around the next morning. They were fantastic. We started getting a latch. We diagnosed him with tongue and lip ties. We got those revised and then breastfeeding was off to a much better continuation. 

    The next day, so I went into labor and had him on a Saturday. Sunday was New Year’s Eve so we got to look out over the city and see the fireworks. Monday, I had this rash all over my body. We were like, “What is this?” It was particularly around my incision and my belly, but it seemed to be everywhere. We were like, “What is this?” It didn’t seem like PUPPPS. It wasn’t just in stretch marks. It was like, “Maybe it’s the antibiotics.” 

    Meagan: The sutures?

    Heather: “Maybe it’s something you’re wearing. Maybe it’s the sutures. We don’t know.” I had part of my thyroid removed a year prior and I actually had an allergic reaction to the surgical prep. I was like, “Maybe it was the surgical prep.” It wasn’t. We don’t know what it was but they gave me Benadryl. I was like, “Great.” It made me tired. My baby was constantly trying to breastfeed. I was also on medicine for the infection and pain which was just horrendous. That pain was worse than back labor for me. That was almost the most traumatic was trying to walk the day after. It got better quickly for me. I was very fortunate, but it was really scary getting out of bed the first few times. Like really scary, I was in so much pain. 

    So yeah. The Benadryl didn’t really help. The next day, I asked for more because I was still itching and the nurse was like, “It can make your milk dry up.” I was like, “What? I’m not doing that.” We got home eventually and it was just really hard. He very much wanted to be held all of the time. We weren’t sleeping. I felt like breastfeeding wasn’t going super well. We got to my two-week appointment and I saw my midwife who had been there in the birth and I mean, she was wonderfully empathetic. She was just like, “How are you?” I was like, “I am not well. This is not going well. This has been really hard. He’s not gained weight.” 

    She asked me what did we want to do about it? I was really lucky in that the practice and the hospital in general had a licensed clinical social worker attached to it, so I could go to the same place and see this therapist. She was a specialist in postpartum and prenatal counseling and just maternal and child psychology. At two weeks, I was like, “Okay. I want to talk to her.” I went to that probably a week later and I just cried for an hour. I just cried. I talked about the C-section and the episiotomy and about how I was pumping at that point but he wasn’t gaining weight and how this was hard. 

    She just listened the whole time. I was like, “Wow. I just cried for an hour.” She was like, “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” I was like, “I think it is a good thing. I needed this.” 

    Meagan: Sometimes you need those releases. 

    Heather: Yeah, the release was really important. I was seeing a lactation consultant. I was triple feeding so I was feeding, pumping, and supplementing. We get to, I guess, his one-month appointment and he’s passed birth weight. He’s doing well. I went back to the lactation consultant who was like, “Keep triple feeding.” I was like, “I can’t do this,” so I just started to listen to my intuition on that. By that point, yeah. He was gaining weight well. 

    A few weeks later, I go for my six-week appointment and I still was not myself. At that point, I decided to go back on medication. We found something that was breastfeeding-compatible and I felt comfortable doing that. I knew that I needed to take care of myself and that antidepressants were definitely going to be the next step. I would say after I got on antidepressants, I stabilized for a while. There were a good few months there where I was continuing with therapy. We were dealing with a lot of, “Okay. I still have a newborn. I’m still exhausted. I’m adjusting to motherhood,” but just other things in life were coming up. Like I said, I felt like my mood was pretty stable. 

    At about six months postpartum, somebody in my close circle had a pretty decent vaginal birth and I was really happy for her, but oh my gosh. I just fell apart. I dove right back down into depression. I showed up at therapy the next week and I was just like, “I’m so happy for her,” and was just crying. Again, I don’t know where this is coming from. That’s when we started the next step in processing the trauma. 

    Since my therapist was attached to the hospital system, and since she had the specializations that she did, we were able to go through all of my labor notes. For those appointments, I asked my husband to be there for me as well, so we went together. We went through those over the course of a few sessions. We really dug into some of that. I remember going through the notes around the fever and pushing and I was like, “Yeah. I really did need that C-section.” That definitely helped me take another step forward, but at that time also, my therapist was like, “Just so you know, there are other avenues for discussing this.” 

    That’s when she told me about the patient advocate at the hospital. I didn’t know about patient advocates, but my therapist was like, “She’s really great. She’s not just there to prevent lawsuits or malpractice suits. She will be there. She’ll be emotionally there for you. You call her and she’ll set up a meeting with the doctors and head of obstetrics and neonatology if you want.” So that was something that I decided that I wanted to do. It took me a few weeks definitely because it’s still something very close to my heart. It was still very hard. It was just hard to make the call. 

    I think just making space for ourselves when we find ourselves in a place where there’s another step forward, but it’s still hard. It’s just so important. 

    Meagan: It’s hard to make those steps. 

    Heather: It is. You can feel like you know it’s what you want to do and you can still give yourself the time until it’s really right. But I made the call and in September we had the meeting. It turns out that the doctor who had cut me was no longer at the hospital. 

    Meagan: Oh uh-uh. 

    Heather: It may have been because of her attitude. I can neither confirm nor deny, but I did meet with the head of obstetrics who was actually performing the vacuum and assisting in the C-section. That meeting, I went into it and I wanted to ask about the fever. I wanted to ask about the infection like, “How does this happen? Did I do anything? Should I not have taken a bath that morning?” The doctor was like, “These things happen and you can’t control them and all we can do is make the best choices that we can make.” And then I brought up with her the episiotomy and I said, “That was not okay. I should not have been pressured into that. This hospital needs to know and the doctors need to know that all around, this was not okay and this should not have happened.”

    She said that they have trainings and there’s one coming up and that she was going to use this scenario in the trainings. That was really powerful for me to hear that they were going to talk about it in whatever way they did. It was really important for me to speak out and say, “This was not okay. This happened. It should not have happened that way,” but then also to have the doctor hear me and agree with me really did help. 

    The meeting was also interesting. She said, “We would be happy to do pre-pregnancy counseling. We could do a VBAC calculator.” I didn’t know about that and was like, “Okay.” I also said, “I think this hospital should have more access to clear drapes, and women in my position should be offered these things, not just expected after all of what we’ve been through to ask for these things. This seems like a basic thing that we can do to be more mother-baby centric.”

    Meagan: It’s minuscule to make such a big impact. It’s a minuscule thing that changes someone’s experience so much and I love that you brought that up. I love that. 

    Heather: Yeah, so this was back in 2018. I brought that up. I was like, “This could have been and I think this would have helped.” Neonatology was not at that meeting. They were unable to be there, but the head of neonatology did give me a call a few weeks later and she was lovely to talk to. She said, “I was reviewing your notes.” The obstetrician in the patient advocate meeting had not reviewed my notes. I had really hoped that she would have. But neonatology and I went over the notes for Theo and it turns out that he was in more distress than I had believed at birth. 

    I also think that I just was like, “My baby is going to be fine.” Babies have trouble breathing sometimes. That’s why we have an umbilical cord. That’s why I wanted delayed cord clamping for a little bit of a buffer. But the care that he received was important. She just reaffirmed that getting the mom and baby together is really important from the get-go for us. We do value that and you are right to bring that to our attention, but we will continue this value. 

    I got a lot of closure from all of those meetings. I definitely understood all of the medical things that had gone on better. It didn’t solve my depression. I’m still in therapy to this day, but it really helped turn the page. 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Heather: So fast forward to about a year ago, December 2021. I had even written that in my notes. I can’t do the math. 

    Meagan: The years are blowing by so fast. 

    Heather: It’s going by so fast and my daughter is in a sleep regression. It’s just great. We were starting to finally feel like we had our feet underneath us. We moved states. We got settled in another place near my parents which has been great and we were like, “Okay. We want to grow our family.” So that December, we decided to start trying, and two weeks later–

    Meagan: Did you look at each other? Yep.

    Heather: Yeah. Yeah. Two weeks later. From my last menstrual period, I was three weeks pregnant and I was like, “How am I getting a pregnancy test positive already?” I was terrified. I was like, “What is up with us? We are never taking risks. This is just too freaky.” Yeah. We got pregnant right away. So right away, I’m like, “Oh. But I have all of this trauma that is resurfacing.” 

    My son was born at the end of December which means that the really hard postpartum was right during my first trimester which was hard again. I was very sick. I was resting a lot but it was also a different feel because we were so much better as a team this time. We were so much more open about how we were feeling. We were more excited. We knew that we knew more this time. But it was still an adjustment getting used to being pregnant again. 

    I definitely had some anxiety and I don’t usually have much anxiety. Going into my first provider appointment, I was so scared. I really was not looking forward to being in prenatal care again because of my experiences before. So because we got pregnant so fast, I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted midwives again because I just did not feel safe with obstetricians. I went with what ended up being a community clinic for anybody. Anybody can go and it’s price-capped, etc. It’s a rotating group of people who provide the care. 

    It just so happened that the first time I went there, I met with one of the midwives so I thought, “Okay. I’ll be seeing midwives.” I didn’t really know how they assigned people. The midwives were good. From the first appointment, she asked me what I wanted to do for birth and I said that I wanted a VBAC. My second appointment a month later, I was like, “But I have really bad tailbone pain, so maybe I do want a repeat Cesarean.” A few months later, I was like, “Nope. I definitely want a VBAC.”

    I started preparing for it. I did some more courses online learning more about VBAC. That’s when I got introduced to the Facebook community, The VBAC Link Facebook Community which was really great. I started really digging into that towards the end of my second trimester. I will say, unlike my first pregnancy, my second trimester was lovely. I really had a good time. I was taking medication for nausea which never went away again, but because I had it managed, I was able to enjoy and move a lot more this time. I did a lot of pregnancy yoga and pilates. That was really lovely. It really helped me feel more in charge and in control of that aspect at least. 

    Towards the end of my second trimester, I was like, “Jake, I really don’t want an epidural. I really think that is the whole reason why I had the fever in the first place. What I’m learning now is that epidurals can cause fevers.” What everybody told me back in 2017 was that no, no, no, no. Epidurals don’t cause fevers. They might elevate your temperature, but I really don’t believe that at this point. I really think it was because of the fever. I knew that my epidural had not been great. I didn’t want it. I had back labor. I was like, “We need more support.” 

    We got a doula and she was amazing. I had her by the end of my second trimester going into my third trimester. At the beginning of my third trimester, I went to a prenatal appointment on the regular day that I had been going and this new provider walked in. She said, “So you’re going to have a repeat C-section?” I’m like, “No.” She’s like, “Okay, well I mean, I have one priority, really two priorities and that’s a healthy baby and healthy mom.” I’m like, “Okay, but I signed the trial of labor consent last time.” She’s like, “Okay, well as long as you signed it.” 

    It was a horrible discussion. I kept trying to be like, “No. I don’t want to talk about that. I’ve done my research. I’m good.” 

    Meagan: Well and just what she had said there was pretty much saying, “Well, this is my priority and that’s the way to get it.” It was that. 

    Heather: It was horrible. She didn’t go over my charts. She didn’t go over my gestational diabetes screening which I didn’t have, fortunately. She didn’t go over my TSH levels. She didn’t go over anything. She had a hard time finding the baby’s heartbeat. I was just like, “Man. Who is this person?” So I went home totally shook. I was not okay. This is not a good provider. I am being bait-and-switched. I called every office in town. I called every office two hours away. Nobody could take me by that point. I was bawling and I was just talking to my doula and I was just like, “I feel like I should drive two hours and show up in labor.” 

    We examined all of the options. Because I hadn’t found anybody by the time of my next appointment, I went to my next appointment and my blood pressure was through the roof. It was 150/90 something and I was always fine. This midwife comes in and she’s like, “I was looking at your notes. That other provider does not do births. She can’t see. She is not indicative of this practice, Heather.” Right off the bat, this midwife was like, “I can see from your blood pressure readings and from what happened last time that this was not okay.”

    I think I just started crying. I brought my husband that time because I was like, “I’m not going in alone.” So we went. We had a 45-minute to hour-long meeting with her. She was just amazing. She really got me back on track. She was like, “Okay. So here’s what we’re going to do. At 36 weeks, you’re going to start the evening primrose oil. You’re going to start doing this. You’re going to stretch that. We’re going to do stretch and sweeps if you want. If you don’t want them, that’s okay. If we have to induce, this is what I envision.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh. They’ll even induce.” You don’t know all of these things and her overall approach was like, “Okay. I’m feeling so much better about this.” 

    So for the remainder of my pregnancy, I pretty much only went in on days when I knew that the other provider would not be there. I started seeing these other two midwives mostly whereas I had seen a third midwife on Wednesdays so I knew a few of the providers. I was like, “Okay.” As we were getting closer and closer, I’m checking back in with my doula and I’m like, “This hospital doesn’t have the things that I want. There are only two shower rooms. There are no tubs. There is no nitrous. It’s just two medication options, but I don’t feel like I can drive. I don’t want to be laboring in the car. I want to stay home as long as possible.” But I definitely was starting to feel more comfortable with that decision. 

    Knowing that my husband and I had done the self-work since our first birth, knowing that we had all of this time to really talk through things, knowing that we had a doula, we just felt so much better prepared to advocate and face this. This time around, I did a hospital birth course which included a tour of labor and delivery. I was not prepared for how anxious I got in the labor room. I really was back in that place. 

    Meagan: Triggered, yeah. It triggered you. 

    Heather: I’m heading to the hospital. I’m having a baby. There are going to be interventions. It’s not what I want. But we got through it and I just had to take it by faith that I was going to be okay and I was going to be able to stand up for myself. 

    Fast forwarding a little bit, we get to 34, 35, and 36 weeks and I’m just having tons of Braxton Hicks contractions. My job is keeping me on my feet a fair bit teaching little kids music, so I’m wiggling around and every time I’m moving, I’m feeling tightening. I’m like, “Wow. I’m getting ready. This is so amazing.” I was feeling very positive about that. By 35-36 weeks, every night from 10:00 PM on, it was like baby dance and squish hour. So I’m having those tightening Braxton Hicks. Sometimes they were timeable. They were pretty regular. They were not stopping, but I wouldn’t call them painful. 

    I was on the link, “What is this? Okay. It’s probably prodromal labor.” So I was having that quite a bit. I started at 36 weeks. I started, “Okay. I’m going to do the evening primrose oil,” and boy did that make my uterus angry every time I would do it. I’m like, “I don’t know if the midwife really intended this. Maybe I shouldn’t do it.” 

    I go to my 36-week appointment. I go to my 37-week appointment and I’m like, “Yeah. This is crazy.” I didn’t have any checks by that point. I did have a check, I guess, at 35 weeks when we did the GBS positive swab and I did come back positive. I was so upset. I was like, “Man, I really should have just declined that,” because I wasn’t going to change what I was going to do for labor anyway. I had one of the nice midwives check me at that point. She said, “You’re soft but you’re still pretty high and baby is right there. She moved when I poked her.” I thought that was pretty funny. I’m not sure if my son had ever gotten down that low, honestly. 

    At 38 weeks, we go for a walk. I stopped working. I just had so many contractions. I had been bringing my husband to work with me because I work an hour away. I was like, “I’m not going to drive if I’m contracting. It could literally be any time.” But we had the appointment and the midwife was like, “So Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the midwives that are really on board with your birth plan. They’re the ones that you really want to see.” I was like, “Awesome.” 

    So Monday night, I’m 38+3 and I do my prenatal yoga, pilates, and birth ball bouncing. It’s probably 10ish, 10:00 PM. My husband is like, “Let’s get this baby out of you.” He’s bouncing me on the ball. We’re just being lighthearted and silly and just like, “Okay, whatever.” But that night, I woke up at 3:00 AM which was not unusual having contractions which were not unusual. I get up to pee which is very usual as we all know. At that point in pregnancy, I just could not sleep and my water broke. 

    I went to the bathroom and then I’m still leaking and it was dark. I’m like, “What’s going on?” I sit back down on the toilet. I get some light and I’m like, “Oh my gosh. There’s vernix in it. This is really my water.” I was so excited. I wasn’t really feeling any contractions and I was like, “Of course,” because I’m GBS positive, my water breaks prematurely. 

    Meagan: Your water breaks first. 

    Heather: I was so mad but I was like, “I’m not going yet. This could still be a day or more,” but I started calling my doula and let my husband sleep a little bit longer. I go into the room finally probably at almost 4:00 and I’m like, “My water broke.” He was dead asleep but his face lit up and he was so excited. That’s one of those really sweet memories from labor for me was just seeing his face get so excited like, “We’re having a baby! We’re having a baby!”

    Another hour and a half goes by. I canceled all of the things that I had to do that day. My parents come to get my son and I had a very tearful goodbye because by this point, I was definitely in labor and I was emotional. I was like, “My baby.” So my parents show up for my son and I’m in the shower. I’m groaning, moaning through things and I’m definitely having back labor. My doula isn’t there yet, but we still have a lot of time. Contractions were fairly close by that point, probably 3-4 minutes apart for a solid minute, really, really strong ones. 

    Meagan: Which is common with back labor and posterior babies where it’s really, really close. That’s really common. 

    Heather: Yeah, I was like, “The shower is great, but you know what would be even better? A bath.” So I drew a bath and I’m emotional. My son is gone and I’m crying to my husband. He’s like, “You’re going to see him again.” But I’m like, “But he’s not going to be my only baby.” The doula shows up and she’s like, “Now, is your bath too warm?” I glared at her. I was like, “No. I was a good girl. I didn’t make it too warm.” All I wanted was to be in the sauna. 

    But I get out. I was like, “Okay. It is time to go to the hospital. I’m facing that reality. I’m going to have to go to the hospital now.” So I used the bathroom and I’m on the toilet. Oh man, once again it was just so painful being on the toilet. I start feeling my body push. I’m like, “Okay. We need to go.” 

    So we were packed up. I put on a robe and underwear and nothing else. 

    Meagan: That’s great. 

    Heather: We show up in August to the hospital in the south and I’m in my not regular robe, like a fuzzy robe. 

    Meagan: Like fuzzy warm? 

    Heather: Yeah, yeah. That’s what I wanted. I was beyond rational thought at that point. My husband parks right in front of the doors. It’s totally fine. We’re in a small enough town. It’s great. He gets the wheelchair and wheels me up. People are clearing the elevator for me and I’m like, “Uhhhhhhh.” We only had a ten-minute ride to the hospital, but I had at least five contractions so I was in full-blown transition at that point. I’m horse-lipping it. I’m doing whatever I can to not push. 

    We get up to the room. We skip triage. We go right into the room and they’re pretty calm. My birth plan never made it over there, so they don’t know who I am really. I’m like, “That’s great. I’m happy with that because I’m a VBAC person and I don’t want the monitoring. I don’t want to be in your constrictions, rules, whatever.” It took them a long time actually to figure out I was a VBAC person. They’re kind of intermittently monitoring me but I’m moving around. I’m fully naked at this point. I had no modesty. I did not care. 

    Oh, I had a TENS unit and I had a comb. 

    Meagan: Combs are amazing. 

    Heather: They really are. I’m leaning against the back of the hospital bed and I’m screaming through them. I got checked and I was like, “Can I have medicine?” They were like, “Uh, it’s too late for that. You’re at a 9.” I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I started labor maybe around 3:30 or so and I’m at the hospital by 8:30. 

    Meagan: Wow. 

    Heather: So I’m at a 9. I had my TENS unit turned way up. I’m screaming for things. As my husband, I want to say this. As my husband was wheeling me into the room, I was like, “I’m going to ask for an epidural. I want the epidural.” He was like, “No, you don’t. No, you don’t.” That moment was so important because at that exact moment, I forgave myself for that first epidural. I don’t think I could have in any other situation. I really was like, “No. I did what I had to that first birth. I understand again why I did it. This is no joke.” Just that thankfulness and that gratitude for that started. 

    One of the nice midwives was on call so she comes in and she checks me. Even though I’m a 9, my cervix is moving out of the way, so she was like, “You have the green light to push.” So I’m pushing and I probably got ten minutes into pushing and I was like, “This isn’t working. I want a C-section. I want to be awake for my baby’s birth. I don’t want her to get stuck.” The midwife was like, “This was your choice. We have not been doing this for long enough. Okay. We are not there yet.” 

    Everybody like my doula is in the back saying, “No, Heather. You’re doing great. You’re fine.” My husband is like, “No. We’re not doing that.” I was like, “Okay. Okay, no. I know how to push. I remember this. I can do this.” So I was pushing. I started off pushing holding the back of the hospital bed. I pushed on my hands and knees. I wasn’t feeling like it was super effective at that point. I really wanted to try the squat bar. They didn’t really know where it was. They had to figure out where it was. I guess they don’t use it a lot, but I was like, “No. We’re doing this.” 

    I pushed squatting for a while. That was pretty good, but we were like, “Okay. Let’s find a position where I can rest in between contractions too.” I tried on my left side for a while and then I turned to my right side for a while. One of the pushes on my right side, I felt a shift and I was like, “Oh. Now we’re in business.” I could tell. She had moved farther along. 

    I actually ended up pushing on my back for a little while. That felt good too. It felt really effective. While I was on my back, I asked for a mirror which was something in my first birth, my voice had said, “Yeah. Go for the mirror,” but my fear had gone, “I don’t want to see. I don’t want to see that.” But this time, they didn’t have a mirror so my husband whips out his cell phone and I was like, “Don’t you dare.” He’s like, “No, no. It’s just so you can see. I wouldn’t do that Heather.” I was like, “Okay.”


    Meagan: That’s actually a really great idea. 

    Heather: Yeah, honestly. I got to see that. I got to really be so much more present. By the time I was pushing, yes contractions were really intense, but I was so thankful to just be able to do something about them. I had experienced this in the first labor too. With the epidural wearing off, pushing felt good. Ring of fire did not. I could feel that. That was super intense, but I had really gotten back into the zone at this point.

    I guess I had tested out my provider and she was like, “No. You’re doing it. You’re doing great.” They really could never get the monitors to continuously monitor me. They tried one of the wireless ones and baby girl and I were just moving too much. I was thinking, “That’s fine. We’re moving. That’s what we need to do.” So I would push and then the labor nurse who apparently was a little snarky about me not being on continuous monitoring would slide the monitor down and at one point, the midwife was like, “That’s your baby’s heartbeat. Your baby’s doing good.” A few times, they reminded me to take really slow breaths in between so we kept that oxygen going. 

    After a while, probably about 45 minutes or maybe longer of pushing, I got back up on the squat bar and it really got serious by this point. I remember the midwife was like, “Okay. There is about this much, about two inches between you and the bed, so once this head is delivered, we’re going to carefully roll you to your back and then we’ll deliver the rest of the baby.” I was like, “Oh my gosh. I’m having this birth.” So the next contraction comes and it builds. I push and I feel her just slip out entirely. 

    Meagan: Whoa. 

    Heather: She fell out of me at that point. In one motion, I had my eyes closed and I had been on the bar. She’s out of me and I roll back onto the back of the bed. All of a sudden, I have this very slimy, meconium-covered baby on my chest. She wasn’t covered, but she had all of this fluid come out.

    Meagan: Warm and sticky.

    Heather: Yes, very sticky. I was just like, “Oh my god. I did it.” It was an amazing feeling. I didn’t have this huge rush of love. It was a little bit like when I had held my son for the first time like, “Oh my gosh. There is this beautiful stranger in my arms,” but that was kind of nice. I was like, “Okay. I’m used to that. That doesn’t mean anything. I did it.” They did all of the APGAR scores and everything watching her on my chest. The nursery nurse was like, “If you see her starting to peck around, you can nurse her.” We had a successful first latch. My doula was taking pictures so we have some beautiful pictures of my husband and me just looking at this baby and looking at each other and grinning. 

    I mean, I would say the biggest feeling I had after Juniper’s birth was just gratitude. I really felt so cared for in the hospital this time. I knew the midwife and she was really, really supportive. Having my doula and my husband there was great. My husband was a rockstar this time. I would say we were both kind of deer in headlights the first birth. This time, he was giving me sips of water. He was encouraging me to put on chapstick. He was holding my hand. He was just an amazing partner through this and I mean, I know my doula did a lot but I feel like she was also just kind of there. I know at one point when they were like, “There’s no birth plan. What does she want?” my doula was on it because at that point, all I would have been able to say it, “I want the things,” which would have been, “I want skin-to-skin. I want delayed cord clamping.” 

    My husband cut the umbilical cord while she was on my chest. We got to see the placenta. We got alone time just to have that golden hour. I was very sore but it was nothing compared to the back labor. I just felt really like, “Okay. I can handle this recovery this time.” 

    Important to note, I did have a mental health plan in place for postpartum. I still saw my providers two weeks later and it was the really warm and fuzzy midwife. She was like, “How are you feeling?” I was like, “Honestly, I’m great.” I had a little bit of baby blues a few days after where I was comically crying because my babies were growing up when one is four days old, but it was honestly a night and day difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression. Baby blues, I felt great most of the time. I had this abiding sense of gratitude and love for my husband, for my kids, thankfulness and so appreciative of the staff. 

    My midwife had actually told the labor nurse to back off because she was freaking out that I wasn’t being monitored as a VBAC person but my midwife had said going into it, “I think number one, we’re going to get you a better birth this time and I think that’s going to help your mental health but number two, we’re here. We can up your dose.” I had therapy appointments already scheduled. My therapist was like, “If you need to see me twice a week, that’s fine. We’ll make this work.” Ultimately, I went into it having done a lot of preparation for postpartum and knowing that I had been through the fire the first time and I could do it if need be. Actually, it was a lot easier than I had expected. 

    I think the other reason why this postpartum reason was easier was because I did do so much intensive work since my first child’s birth. I really dug into the trauma. It took a long time. There’s no timeline where you have to have it all figured out by and even during pregnancy, I was still figuring out bits and pieces of it and piecing it together and facing difficulties, but I had just told myself going into that birth, “I’m going to l listen to myself. I’m going to listen to that voice and if baby needs to be born via C-section, it’s going to be okay because I will have listened to myself this time.” That’s going to be the big difference. 

    So I really tried to manage my expectations but also just to hold onto what I knew I could control and what I knew I could do. 

    Meagan: I love that you say that. Hold onto what I could control. Hold onto what you can control We know in birth and in life, in everything in life, there are so many things that are truly out of our control, but for this birth, you held onto what you could control and then you were open-minded for the things that you couldn’t control. It didn’t go another route which is awesome, but if it did, you were much better prepared this time. Through this birth, I feel like we saw such a shift in you, Heather. We saw such a big shift in, “I’ve got this voice. I don’t feel I can use it. I’ve got this voice. I’m going to use it and I’m going to get my team. They’re going to know what my voice is before I get there even so if I don’t ever feel like I can use it because I’m in a space where I’m vulnerable, my team knows and they’re advocating for me.” 

    Heather: Yeah. That was such an important part for me. I knew I was having a daughter this time. I was like, “I’m going to approach this as the model that I want her to have. I want her to know that she is empowered to make whatever choices she needs to in life and I need to practice that now.” I also want my kids to know sometimes life is uncontrollable and that we can trust things but we can also just accept that some things are going to be hard. We don’t know what the outcome is going to be. 

    I really had this saying in the back of my head, “Don’t push the river. The river of labor is going to come. It’s going to take me where it takes me.” From the water breaking to her being out, it was maybe 7 hours. She was born at 9:58 AM so an hour and a half after I got to the hospital. So much did go how I wanted. So much was a lot harder than I expected, but I had prepared myself in so many ways. I knew I was strong. I knew I had been preparing my body, my mind, and my emotions. I really had just been so vulnerable with my husband and myself. I knew I could tap into that vulnerability as strength which is honestly one reason why I am here today is that I really hope that we can all find that. It’s hard. 

    Meagan: It is hard. It’s really hard. We’ve talked about this in other episodes. It’s hard to even recognize or accept that you need to do that. It’s hard to even get to that point. There are so many times when we just brush it away so I love it. I love that you go through all of that work for for yourself. Look at what that did. Look at the impact. Like you said, it’s okay. You’re still going through things. You’re still working through things and you are probably going to for a while and that is okay, but you’re helping you and you’re taking charge for you.

    Heather: Mhmm, yep. I feel so good about the example that’s for my kids. 

    Meagan: Exactly. Exactly, yes. Thank you so much for coming into this space and being so vulnerable and sharing these beautiful stories. I know as a mom myself going through two undesired Cesareans and both in different ways, I understand that space of wanting to be that strength but not feeling like you can and then through work and processing and education, being able to be there and say, “Okay. I’ve got this for myself. I’ve got this for myself.”

    Listeners, you can do that too. If you are like Heather and I and have been in a moment, and it doesn’t even just apply in birth, it may apply in all things in life where we feel vulnerable and we feel stuck, you can do it. You can trudge through the mud. Sometimes it’s really feeling like you’re trudging with ankle weights on. It’s thick and it’s heavy, but you can do it. You are strong. 

    Something I also wanted to mention is patient advocacy. I don’t know if that’s ever been spoken about on the podcast. I don’t know if many people even know it exists. I believe from my knowledge that it exists in every hospital because there unfortunately are things that happen in hospitals where patients need to go in. But if you are like Heather and you’ve had this experience, don’t shy away. Heather, do you have any tips on how to maybe approach a provider in that way of, “Hey, I’ve got this going on.” How could someone start that conversation or who in the hospital can they contact to find the patient advocacy program?

    Heather: Yeah, so I knew about it because my social worker was also a therapist. I would say that finding social workers is going to be the first step because they are the ones trained to know the systems. I know that there are always going to be some kind of social worker attached to the hospital system. When I had that awful doctor appointment with that obstetrician, I actually did approach the social worker. She’s not a therapist but she was like, “Here’s the name of the person who you should talk to.” 

    I actually have that card but I haven’t contacted them yet because I’m giving myself space and grace but I will. I will at some point and say, “This happened and it was not okay.” I would say if you are afraid to talk to your provider about it, just ask your provider who the social worker is and how to get in contact with them. I don’t think hospitals usually advertise that super well at all. 

    Meagan: They don’t. 

    Heather: But telling your provider if your provider is the one that you are reporting, telling them that you want to talk to the social worker is a neutral way to go about it. If you’re like me and had a wonderful midwife but had an issue with another person, you could probably talk directly to your provider about like, “I need to talk to a patient advocate. What happened was not okay and I want somebody to listen to me.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. This is the thing. I think you touched on it earlier. It’s not always to just be like, “I want to sue this person.” It’s not about that, but I will tell you right now, it’s going to make change. It’s going to make change. You are advocating for another birthing person who is walking in and maybe is in a vulnerable space and doesn’t feel that they can speak for themselves or maybe after some more education from a provider’s standpoint or a nurse’s standpoint, they can step back and be like, “Okay. I’ve learned about this and I’m not going to take this approach because it’s affected someone else.” 

    It’s okay. It’s okay to do that. You really are. You’re advocating for the future people.

    Heather. Yep. It really can help you heal too. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. That’s one of the biggest takeaways from personally doing that. Like you said, it didn’t help everything. It didn’t cure all of your feelings, but it gave you some validation. It gives you power in your healing. So I love that you spoke about that and all about the postpartum. I’m so glad you had a much better and healing and beautiful experience the second time around. 

    Heather: Yes, me too. I really felt so much better cared for this time. 

    Meagan: Good. Good. Well, congratulations again. 

    Heather: Thank you. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    1h 15m | Mar 8, 2023
  • Episode 224 Abby's VBA2C After a Pulmonary Embolism

    Abby has always had a heart for birth. She became doula-certified long before becoming a mother and even introduced her husband to The Business of Being Born on their second date! She knew that undisturbed, physiological birth was the way she wanted to go.

    But Abby’s birth experiences were filled with wild twists and turns including chorioamnionitis, posterior and breech positioning, pulmonary embolisms, hemorrhaging, multiple miscarriages, an ICU stay, and many blood transfusions. 

    With the odds stacked against her, Abby did not give up the fight. She knew deep in her soul that a VBA2C was something she could do.


    Fresh off of her VBA2C, Abby shares every intense, tender, and raw moment of her journey. We know you’ll love Abby just as much as we do.

    Additional Links

    Abby’s Website

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Hello, this is Meagan with The VBAC Link and today we have another beautiful story for you. We are so excited to share all of these stories in this beautiful 2023. It’s going to be a great year. That is what I keep saying. It’s going to be a great year. No more weird viruses and all of the things. It’s just going to be a good, positive year and we are starting this week out with a positive VBAC story. 

    We have Abby with us today and she is from North Carolina. Is that correct? 

    Abby: Yes, Charlotte, North Carolina. 

    Meagan: Yes, I love it. We have quite a few doulas in North Carolina as well. Maybe you guys could all connect. She is actually a doula as well. She is not practicing right now because she has a whole bunch of little bodies around, but this birth has totally motivated and boosted her spirits into the day that she does get back into doula work. So Abby, welcome. 

    Review of the Week

    Meagan: I am going to share a quick review and then we will jump right into your beautiful story. 

    Abby: I can’t wait. 

    Meagan: Me neither. I really can’t wait for your story. This is PaigeBroadway. She shared her review and it was on Apple Podcasts. It says, “Allowing me to believe in myself.” Just that subject right there makes me so happy because that is exactly why The VBAC Link exists is allowing you to believe in yourself. We talk about this all of the time. It’s to believe in yourself to make the decision that is best for you. We don’t always have to have a VBAC. We don’t always have to have a repeat Cesarean. Or maybe a VBAC is chosen to a repeat Cesarean or a scheduled one. It doesn’t matter the way we birth, but as long as we believe in ourselves and we believe in our ability to make the right choice for us, that is exactly what this podcast is for. 

    Her review says, “My husband and I are currently trying to conceive. I knew immediately after my C-section that I never wanted to have an experience like that again. This podcast has already given me the strength to switch providers and the knowledge to prepare for a VBAC. I can do this.” 

    Paige, you absolutely can do this. Just like all of the others here, right? Right, Abby? Do you feel like that?


    Abby: Oh my gosh. That is just the most encouraging thing and that’s how I felt about The VBAC Link for five years and now I’m here telling my story. So yes, Paige. You can do it. You really can. 

    Meagan: Yes. You really, really can. We always accept more reviews. You can drop us an email at info@thevbaclink.com or Apple Podcasts or Google Play. You can send us a message on Instagram. Wherever it may be, we love to read your reviews. We love to receive your reviews. So definitely if you wouldn’t mind, push pause and drop us a review. 

    Abby’s Stories

    Meagan: Hello, women of strength. This is Meagan. I am so happy that you are listening to the podcast. When I was preparing for my vaginal birth after two Cesareans, it was hard to find the evidence-based information in one spot. It could lead me to feel lonely or even confused. This is why Julie and I created The VBAC Link Podcast. Did you know that we also send out emails with helpful tips and advice on how to achieve your VBAC all easily digestible in one email form? Just head over to thevbaclink.com. 

    Okay, Abby. We have so many stories on this podcast and I know that like you said, here you’ve been for five years and now you are here sharing your story. You are just fresh. You are fresh out of it, right? 2 weeks? 

    Abby: Very fresh. I just stopped wearing Depends the other day. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. I love it. That is fresh. That is fresh out of it. 

    Abby: Very fresh. 

    Meagan: Fresh out of birth. Sometimes I feel like right out of birth is so fun because again, it’s so fresh and it’s in the forefront of your mind so you have all of the detailed things to share. I am so, so, so excited for you to share your story. So go ahead. 

    Abby: Oh my goodness. Well, I should start at the beginning about five years ago. My daughter is turning five on January 31st, so it’s been almost exactly five years since she was born. I went to a doula training when I was 20-22ish years old way before my husband and I met. On our first date, he told me that he didn’t want to be in the room when the baby was born. I literally told him that he should go on a date with someone else because it was so important. I was like, “This isn’t going to work out.” I showed him The Business of Being Born on our second date and he has changed dramatically since then. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. I’m dying. 

    Abby: But I feel like that just gives a little bit of a background of who I am as a human being. 

    Meagan: And your passion. 

    Abby: I feel very strongly about it. Yes, yeah. I was really quite young. Honestly, I have to give a shoutout to a friend of mine who is now a midwife but was a doula at the time. We went on a mission trip to Africa. We were sitting on a bed in Uganda and she was talking about how beautiful birth was. I was a teenager. I think I was soon to turn 21. It was like, “Why would you not get an epidural?” I was very far away from childbearing years at the time. I just didn’t understand. She just sat patiently with me and explained in such a beautiful way how beautiful birth is and that it can create a mother and that it’s worth it to go through what you go through and come out on the other side of it. It was just such a meaningful conversation for me. 

    It really shifted my whole worldview and made me who I am today.  It’s interesting thinking back on that girl who would have said, “Why would you not get an epidural? Why would you want to have a natural childbirth?” to the way that my stories ended up which is just bananas. 

    Needless to say, I was very crunchy and felt like, “Okay. I’d love to have a home birth.” It was my first baby, so my husband was like, “Maybe we should do a birth center.” At the time, there was a birth center in Charlotte, so that’s the direction that we went. I was just picturing the twinkle lights and a tub and all of the things that you see on Instagram for birth. That was the mental picture that existed in my brain. At that time, I was listening to another birth podcast and I specifically remember skipping over C-section stories. I was just not interested in them. I didn’t even think it applied. It wasn’t intentional. It was, “Oh, well I don’t need to listen to those because I’m not going to have a C-section.”

    Meagan: That’s not what I’m doing. Exactly.

    Abby: Yeah, that’s not what I’m doing, so why would I need to listen to that? In retrospect, that really messed me up and I love that y’all’s podcast mentions that this is a podcast for all moms. This does not need to just be people who have had C-sections. I think listening to The VBAC Link can help you prepare to a) not have a C-section, but also prepare for a C-section if that’s what has to happen for you. It was just a really difficult transition for me from the twinkle light picture to ending up with a C-section. 

    But my pregnancy with Hadley was fine. It’s funny because I’m older now and I’m like, “Oh, that pregnancy was great.” I was in great shape and I was much younger. Everything was fine and easier. I did have a rib pop out of place. I know now that she was sunny-side up for almost the entire pregnancy, so my whole third trimester was excruciatingly painful. I had never seen a chiropractor before that, so I went to a chiropractor eventually but it was really just like bandaids. It wasn’t really helping because my body was not in the right condition beforehand. I’m a really big proponent of bodywork. That will come back in the rest of my story. But at the time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was in a lot of pain toward the end, but other than that, everything was fine. 

    I went overdue which I expected. I was excited when I made it to 37 because I was still allowed to be at the birth center. I think I was probably pretty ready. I tried to do some induction acupuncture, and I’m not sure if it actually did anything but a couple of days later, I started having what I felt like were contractions. I had never been in labor before, so they were two minutes apart but really, really short and not getting any longer. I was just confused.

    My doula-gut was like, “This feels off, but also I’m dying.” I don’t know what to do about this. So we called my doula over and went to the birth center after almost 48 hours of having those contractions at home. Again, if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken a bath and had some Epsom salts. It was probably prodromal labor. 

    We went to the birth center and I can’t not tell this part of the story. I told the midwife, “If you tell me that I’m 1 centimeter, I’m going to kick you in the face.” She backed up because I was only 1 centimeter. Oh, I was like, “No, don’t back up. Come in my face and tell me I’m a 4 or something.” I just knew at that point that it was over because I was like, “I’m so tired. This is the point when I’m asking for an epidural and I’m 1 centimeter.” How could I possibly get through this?

    The worst news was yet to come. She said, “You have to transfer to the hospital. You have a fever of 100.2.” She thought that I had chorio. I think, I don’t know how to say the actual word. It’s chorioamnionitis. 

    Meagan: Yeah. That’s why they call it chorio. 

    Abby: Exactly. 

    Meagan: Infection. It’s an infection. 

    Abby: Right. It’s a uterine infection. She said, “I’m sorry. I’m diagnosing you with a uterine infection. You have to go to the hospital.” I was just devastated. Honestly, that was the point of my birth where I feel like I really lost all of my power as a person and a mother. The rest of the birth felt like it just happened to me. I was not an active participant. I went to the hospital and they said, “You actually don’t have a fever,” because the hospital system’s standard of fever is over 100, and at the hospital, I was 99.7 or something. So they said, “You don’t have a fever. We’re going to let you labor.”

    Meagan: So it went down?

    Abby: I don’t know if it went down or if it was just a different thermometer and they were like, “According to us, you don’t have a fever so we’ll let you labor.” In retrospect, it was good news because if they had just sliced me open the second I got there, I probably would have never set foot in a hospital again and that would have been very bad news for my second birth. So I think that would have really turned me off of the medical system altogether and doctors. I just would have gone real red pill in the other direction. 

    So they let me labor, but I ended up with an epidural at 1 centimeter. I tried to get in the little dinky shower at the hospital and it was cold half water. I was like, “This is doing nothing.” I wanted to be in the tub at the birth center. I ended up with an epidural flat on my back and at that point, you’re like, “Well, who cares? If I’m already here, why not do Pitocin? Why not break my water?” So thus began the cascade of interventions ironically that started with an epidural. I feel like that’s not always the case, but that was very much the cascade of interventions for me. I did not want them to break my water, but eventually, they did. 

    I was there for three days and they really let me go for a really long time. 

    Meagan: That’s actually really impressive for a hospital.

    Abby: I was so pleased with the care that I received. Both of the OBs that were flipping on and off of call were very patient with me. I think they kind of knew, “Oh, this is one of those birth center moms. We might as well just let her try.” 

    Meagan: Let her do it. 

    Abby: That was kind of a vibe that I got, but it was genuine. They really were like, “Yeah. You can totally do this.” But really, it was an unnecessary induction because I was 1 centimeter and I wasn’t really in labor. I wasn’t having true labor contractions. I wish that I had just gone home and gone to sleep, but we wouldn’t be here having this conversation if that happened. 

    I got to 10 eventually and I made it to pushing eventually. The epidural that I had was so strong that I could not feel from my shoulders all the way down. I was numb. I’ve never been so numb in my life, but again, I didn’t know that’s not what an epidural was supposed to feel like. They were telling me to push and I was just like, “What do you mean?” They told me to lift my legs up and I was like, “I can’t hold my legs. They weigh 4000 pounds. What are you talking about?” 

    The nurses were not as kind as the OBs and I could tell that they were not approving of my pushing and that it wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing. But the benefit of Hadley’s birth, she asked that I say her name on the podcast, so the benefit of Hadley’s birth was that by the time I made it to 10 and pushing, they tried to use the vacuum seven times. They tried all of the things. They really, really let me go. 

    So by the time they said it was time for a C-section, I really trusted them. I didn’t feel like it was a snap judgment. I felt like, “You know what? Okay. I agree. If this isn’t working, it’s not working. There’s nothing else we can do.” So come to find out, she was sunny-side up. 

    Meagan: I was going to say, was she sunny-side up still?

    Abby: She was. She was. So when they had broken my water, she basically got stuck up in that broken rib cage and never made it around my pubic bone. I also did have chorio we found out after. 

    Meagan: Oh no way. 

    Abby: It was just the wildest. We joke that it was a Murphy’s Law birth and that every random thing could have possibly happened, but everyone was fine. I was fine. Hadley was fine, but it was deeply traumatic for me. I really did not feel like I was present for it at all. It was really difficult to feel like I wanted to have this empowering, personal experience and it was so impersonal and medicalized. I was separated from Hadley for the first few hours of her life and they took me into, I don’t even know what it’s called, but it was a terrible experience. 

    My husband was super traumatized because it wasn’t what he thought was happening either and it was really, really difficult for us. That is really when I started listening to The VBAC Link right away. I was like, “Done. I’m having a VBAC. That was terrible. I’m not doing that again.” I felt pretty strongly about that. Unfortunately, it took us two and a half years to get pregnant with our second. We had three miscarriages along the way, so a lot of our story has been “not right nows” and “maybe laters”. We are really thankful for the children that we have which is wild how they all got here at the correct time. 

    We were filling out adoption paperwork in January 2021 after so long of trying and found out on February 1st the day after my 5-year-old’s third birthday that we were pregnant. It was the darkest line I’ve seen since I was pregnant with Hadley. It was like, “This is the baby. This is the one. She’s going to stick around.” I felt like this was my VBAC. I don’t know if that was just my personality and my, “Oh, this is going to happen. I’m going to manhandle this into being the case,” but I very much wanted it to be my VBAC. 

    That pregnancy went kind of similarly with rib pain. I started chiropractic earlier this time, but still really struggled with the rib. Her name is Ginnie. Ginnie was sunny-side up the whole time, so that was against me from the beginning that she was sunny-side up, but again, I don’t know how I didn’t spend more time thinking about it or trying to get her into a better position, but I just didn’t. It was honestly the height of COVID and I had a toddler. Life was just still happening, so I went into labor I thought. I was 39 weeks exactly and my water broke at home. I was elated because, with Hadley, my water didn’t break on its own so I felt like, “Oh my gosh. Labor is starting. I’m going into labor naturally. This is exactly what I wanted.”

    I stood up and it was a gush. It was very much my water. It was no mistaking, “Okay, that’s not pee. Definitely, my water has broken.” I was so excited and then nothing happened at all. 

    Meagan: I can totally relate to that. 

    Abby: Yes. I’ve listened to your birth stories. It was a Sunday so a friend came to pick up our toddler and we were all excited. We were going to have a baby. Nothing. 

    Meagan: Nothing. 

    Abby: Crickets. Not even a single cramp. I walked four miles that day. We did all of the things and it just was like no. We went to sleep that night and I was like, “I’m not going to the hospital until 24 hours and then I’m not even going to tell the hospital that it’s been that long,” which is sort of what happened. We went in about 24 hours later and I still had not had a single contraction. Absolutely nothing happened. 

    Meagan: Were you still leaking?

    Abby: Yes. Yeah. 

    Meagan: Still coming. 

    Abby: Again with the diapers, I need to buy stock in Depends at this point. But yes it was definitely my water and it was definitely not doing anything. I went to the hospital. Triage takes a million hours when you’re not in active labor, so we were in triage forever and they wanted to get me hooked up to continuous fetal monitoring. I said, “Oh, okay. So I’ll have the wireless one.” They were like, “Oh, it doesn’t work.” I was like, “That’s not what I signed up for.” My practice was very like, “Yes, you can have a VBAC.” Actually, my midwife was very, “You can have a VBAC,” but she was part of a practice that had OBs and you sort of don’t know who you’re going to get until the day of. 

    I felt very supported throughout my whole pregnancy. Everyone thought I was going to have a VBAC. I had plenty of those conversations with OBs that they’re like, “Okay, so just so you know, here are the risks.” I’m like, “Yeah, yeah. I know all of the risks. I’ve done the research. Thank you very much for informing me. Have a nice day.” When I think back, I think there were probably some red flags that it was friendly but not supportive.

    Meagan: Tolerant. 

    Abby: Yes, a tolerant but not supportive practice. But again, I didn’t know that until I knew that. I started an induction. My contractions started getting regular. It worked. I was dilating and I made it to about 6 centimeters. I don’t think I mentioned this before but my husband had childhood cancer, so he has pretty severe medical trauma and hospitals are particularly triggering for him. Other people being in pain is also triggering for him. 

    Meagan: I’m sure, yeah. 

    Abby: Around 6 centimeters, I was starting to need a little bit more support. My doula, because inductions take forever, was like, “I’m just going to go home and spend the day at home. I’ll come back at night when you really need it.” I was chilling. I was just watching Friends and hanging out until I wasn’t. It started to pick up really quickly. What made me start to need more support was that they turned off the Pitocin when I had to go to the bathroom and then they turned it back on and didn’t change the number. I think it was at a 9, but something about turning it off and turning it back on made my body go, “Whoa. That was really intense.” All of a sudden it felt like insane Pit contractions. 

    My husband started to have a really hard time supporting me through it and my doula was stuck in line at Chick-fil-A. You know, once you’re in the line, you can’t get out of the drive-thru. 

    Meagan: Of all the places too, darn it. 

    Abby: We wanted it. I was like, “Bring me food. I want to eat something. I’m going to break all of these rules.” 

    Meagan: She’s getting everyone food and stuck. 

    Abby: Yes, she’s totally stuck. My husband needed to eat dinner. It had been a long day already, so she was stuck. I was like, “You know what? I have peace about this. I’m going to get an epidural. I’m going to ask for an epidural.” I really was pretty okay. I was not dying mentally at this point, but I felt like my husband needed a little break from me not being okay and I felt like, “I’m at a 6. I got an epidural at 1 centimeter last time so all right. We’re doing it. This is happening. Things are progressing. Let’s do it.” 

    Naturally, my doula got back right before they were placing the epidural. She was like, “What are you doing? We’re not doing an epidural. Let me do some hip compressions. What are you talking about?” She’s very, “Come on. Let’s do this.” That’s why I hired her because I needed that, but I had made up my mind mentally. 

    Meagan: Yeah, which is okay.

    Abby: Yes. Very much so. I think it is honestly what needed to happen for a litany of reasons. But once my doula got back, she noticed that my heart rate kept beeping on the monitor and when you’re in hospitals, you hear beeping all of the time so we weren’t paying attention to what the beeping was. It wasn’t the baby’s, so no one was really all that concerned, but my heart rate was insanely high. So much so that my doula was checking my Apple Watch for my history of what my normal heart rate was. She was like, “Give me your Apple Watch and let me look at what this normally is,” but I had only gotten my Apple Watch while I was pregnant, so I didn’t have a baseline, “This is my normal heart rate.” 

    Basically, the nurses just turned down the volume on my heart rate monitor that was saying, “Alert, alert! Something is wrong with this woman.” 

    Meagan: That could be a sign of infection. 

    Abby: It could be a sign of a lot of things. 

    Meagan: A whole bunch of other things, yes. 

    Abby: It seemed like my doula was the only one who was concerned about that. I was concerned only about having a VBAC so I was like, “Whatever. I don’t want any hindrances to the VBAC. Don’t panic about me because I’m good. Baby is good. I’m good. I’m fine.” 

    Again, I made it to 10 and pushing. My heart rate was through the roof and I guess I need to rewind a little bit, sorry. I had a cough for the last four weeks of my pregnancy, maybe more like six. It was a dry cough and it was a the height of COVID, so I had 75 COVID tests because they said that I had COVID.” 

    Meagan: Because you had a cough. 

    Abby: Yes, exactly. They said that if I had COVID, my doula couldn’t come into the birth with me. With my husband’s history, I was like, “No, no. I have to have my doula. That’s not an option.” I took 1000 COVID tests, but it was never COVID. It was never positive. I just had this dry cough that would not go away. The cough combined with the heart rate was really freaking my doula out even when I had an epidural. I took a little nap. I made it to 10 and pushing. When I was pushing, my cough really started to ramp up. I was coughing incessantly. 

    I remember the midwives joking, “We’re all going to have COVID at the end of this birth. Obviously, this lady has COVID because she is coughing up a storm.” We were talking about how one of the midwives had just gotten her taste or her smell back or something after having it. She was like, “Oh my gosh. I’m going to get it again.” It was all of this sort of lighthearted conversation, very, “Yeah, haha. We’re all going to get COVID I guess.” 

    Yes, except for my doula. She was like, “This is odd.” But she said, “You know, maybe you’ll cough your baby out. Maybe it will help you. Maybe those pushes will help you get the baby out.” She was trying to be encouraging. I don’t even remember. I should probably look at my notes on how long I pushed. I think it was a couple of hours and again, I had a sunny-side-up baby with my water broken. She was just lodged and would not come down. 

    Meagan: Were they able to try and rotate at all or was she not low enough? 

    Abby: Neither of the girls ever descended. I don’t remember what station they were at, but it was high. I looked at a picture of my third baby at 37 weeks and my belly was so much lower at 37 weeks than either of the girls on the day I went into labor. They just never dropped. They were not ready really. 

    So when they said that it was time, an OB came in who I had never met before and was not the kindest about the way that she shared that information with me. For me, I felt like, “Who’s going to let me try for a VBAC after two? This is my opportunity to have a vaginal birth and if this is it, this is it. I can’t.” But it felt like at that moment, everyone in the room just sort of fell to what she said. I didn’t have a choice. Even my doula who I adore was like, “I think it is time.” So when your doula and your husband and your midwives all say, “I think it’s time,” then what choice do you really have? 

    Meagan: Well, you trust these people.

    Abby: Right, right. You also don’t want to be the person who, this sounds horrible, but something happened to my baby because I was so hell-bent on having a vaginal birth. At that point, that’s how the conversation felt. Her heart rate was dropping and it wasn’t coming back up in between contractions. They were like, “Okay. I think it’s time.” I reluctantly consented, but really, really struggled. I sobbed through the C-section and threw up through the C-section. I hate having my arms out like Jesus on the cross. It’s just the worst thing in the world. It’s just terrible. It’s not for everyone. I feel like it’s important for me to say that that was my experience. I have a friend who just had a C-section and she was like, “I thought that it was really cool to know that they were down there doing all of that stuff.” She had a great experience and I think that’s amazing. I’m so glad she did, but for me, it was just so different than what I expected that it was deeply traumatizing for me, especially for the second time. 

    But the baby came out and she was fine. I think it took her a couple of seconds to start breathing. I think she had some meconium or something, but they handed her to my husband. She was all cute and then they brought her over to me. She licked my cheek. I do remember having a very different reaction to meeting her than meeting my first daughter. With my first, I had never had a baby before and so I felt like the first thing I thought was, “I didn’t think that’s what she would look like.” I didn’t feel like, “Oh my gosh, I made this human and I love it so much.” That was just not my experience. 

    But with the second one, I had a three-year-old at the time and was like, “You’re going to turn into the coolest little person,” and I knew how to love a child then so it felt much better and different which actually made the next part a lot harder. I still had my cough. It did not go away and after they had sewn me up on the table, every doctor had left the room and it was just the surgical techs and the people that are basically cleaning up the floor. I had to cough and my arms were still out. I was flat on my back and you know when you have a cough, you want to turn to the side or sit up and I couldn’t do either of those things. My lips turned blue and they called a code. I was breathing so I don’t know what the codes are. They pressed a big alarm and people came running. Brian, my husband, was holding the baby and they took her out of his arms and basically pushed him into the hallway so that he wouldn’t see me die, I suppose was the thought, or drop the baby or who knows. 

    I just wanted to turn over and I was trying to explain to these nurses while having a coughing fit, “Can you just let me roll over?” They were trying to put oxygen on my face. I was like, “That’s not going to help this tickle in my throat. I don’t want you to put oxygen on my face.” I was fighting them off. 

    Meagan: I need to get up. 

    Abby: Yeah, exactly. I was just like, “Why can’t you understand me?” But I wasn’t speaking words, so that’s why. The first person who ran back into the room was my anesthesiologist and she apparently was a cardiac-specific anesthesiologist which I didn’t even know was a thing. She took one look at me after I had settled down and said, “I believe that you just had a pulmonary embolism and you need to go to get a CT scan.” At that point, I didn’t know what a pulmonary embolism was so I was not all that concerned about it. I was like, “You’re silly. I just have a cough. I’ve had a cough for four weeks. What are you talking about?” 

    I knew that my husband was going to be really upset obviously, but he wasn’t going to be allowed to come with me to get a CT scan. I was like, “You have to let me go talk to my husband. I have to go tell him that I’m okay.” It’s not funny, but it’s now just sort of a dark humor inside joke that when I went to go talk to him, I was like, “Babe don’t worry. It’s just a pulmonary embolism.” He was like, “Abby, those kill people. That’s not a just kind of thing.” 

    They found several bilateral pulmonary embolisms in my lungs. One of my lungs was 98% occluded, so 2% away from not being able to make it. I spent the first two days of her life in the ICU. Again, it was COVID so I wasn’t able to see her because everyone in the ICU was there for COVID. They were like, “We don’t want your newborn to get sick,” and they were on different floors so they brought her to me one time and then I pumped milk for her that nurses took back and forth but it was really insane. 

    Meagan: Wow. 

    Abby: They gave me blood transfusions and immediately put me on heparin and a drip to start clearing up the blood clots and get them thinned out. When I got finally sent home from the hospital, I had to start blood thinner injections and do those for the next six weeks which unfortunately led to a postpartum hemorrhage. 

    Meagan: Oh my land. 

    Abby: It’s a wild ride. This wasn’t even that long ago. It was October 2021. I basically didn’t have any postpartum bleeding for the first week. I was like, “Man, maybe the C-section is just the way to do it. Maybe this is making the bleeding a lot easier,” but what they think happened is that I had some major swelling and it was basically holding all of the blood in my uterus and by the time it opened up, it was like floodgates. I won’t be too graphic, but when they tell you to call the doctor is when I called the doctor. 

    I had a couple of other scary experiences at home. I passed some clots and they had given me some Cytotec which is supposed to squeeze the uterus. 

    Meagan: Clamp the uterus down, yep. 

    Abby: It clamped too much blood out and I lost too much blood in one hour basically. I passed out on the floor and I was on blood thinners so my mom caught my head because you can get a brain bleed if something happens while you are on blood thinners. I had to get a blood transfusion the next day. My postpartum experience was recovering from a C-section, recovering from the ICU, and then postpartum hemorrhages and I think I had three blood transfusions after being outside of the hospital. 

    Meagan: Holy cow. 

    Abby: I don’t even know how to end that story and shift to the next one because it really was not that long ago. That daughter is now 15 months old. Like I said, it took us a long time to get pregnant with her so I suppose you could say that we were not all that cautious after she was born. Six months later, we found out that we were pregnant. Well, we didn’t know at the time that it was a boy, but we found out that we were pregnant. I had already been asking the hematologist and the pulmonologist, literally everyone. I was like, “So what happens when I get pregnant? Do I need to be on the blood thinner injections on day one? How does this work? What am I going to do?” 

    They all thought I was crazy because they were like, “This chick almost just died. Why is she thinking about getting pregnant?” I was like, “Is this ruling me out of a VBAC?” I had all of the questions. I’m glad in retrospect that I asked them early. I was like, “It could be two years from now, but I want to know what I’m supposed to do on day one. I’m not going to be seeing a pulmonologist on a regular basis when my baby is two, so I might as well just ask now.” 

    I had all of the information that I needed which was wonderful, but I struggled really hard with nursing her. All of my kids had tongue ties and it’s just been a difficult journey breastfeeding. Ginnie, the middle one, had colic and food allergies. I was down to seven foods that I could eat.

    Meagan: That’s the worst. 

    Abby: It was terrible. I was off eggs, soy, dairy, gluten, caffeine, tomatoes, and corn. 

    Meagan: You weren’t really eating anything. 

    Abby: I really wasn’t eating anything. I was losing my mind. I was pumping around the clock to try and get my supply back up. She was still not gaining weight and we just were like, “If this was working, I could maybe keep doing it,” but it wasn’t working and she wasn’t gaining weight, so I switched her to formula. Once I weaned, we pretty much immediately got pregnant. Very much a surprise but I feel like I need to share the beginning of this story because this is really the start of my VBAC story and I’m really going to try not to cry. 

    I had a postpartum nurse when I was postpartum with Ginnie whom we had never met before, but she just adopted our family. She brought me Uncrustables in the postpartum room and those are the best. She was like, “Here’s candy from the nurses’ station.” I think you get a little extra attention when you’re a pulmonary embolism mom in the ICU, so she just adopted us and became a friend to our family after the baby was born. She called me a week before Mother’s Day and said, “Abby.” She was bawling. She told me that she hasn’t cried in three years but this was the first time she cried. She was bawling her eyes out and said, “Abby, I just had a dream about you. I have to tell you the dream.” 

    As a nurse, she has seen, in her time, one stillbirth and it really deeply affected her obviously. She had a dream that she went to heaven and saw her stillborn baby girl as a teenager. She was holding three of my children. Carly did not know that I had three losses because she met me after Ginnie was born. She just knew I was a miscarriage mom and in her dream, the reason she was sobbing was because she thought that meant I was going to experience more loss. She was devastated. She was like, “Oh my gosh. She’s already been through so much. She just had a pulmonary embolism five months ago,” so this stillborn baby girl who was a teenager in the dream calmed her nerves and said, “No, no. These are supposed to be here but this little boy is coming down soon.”

    Meagan: I’ve got the chills. 

    Abby: This is a true story. It’s the craziest thing in the world. It’s just wild to me that this is part of my story but it is. She said that he looked just like Hadley, my five-year-old, and that his name was John which is our boy name and my dad’s name and my grandfather’s name. That was always going to be the name. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Abby: We were like, “Okay. That’s really weird.” You think that’s weird. I think that’s weird. It is the reason that I took a pregnancy test. We weren’t trying so I wouldn’t have taken one. It was the faintest little line. Truly, so, so faint but because I knew that I needed to be on Lovenox day one and because I knew from my miscarriage history, I needed to be on progesterone day one, it was a Friday so I texted my midwife and I said, “I need HCG labs and I need you to call me in progesterone and Lovenox.” My HCG that day was very, very low. I think it was a 5 and the lowest considered viable pregnancy is a 7. They want it to double or triple by 48 hours from now. 

    I went back on Monday. I started my progesterone and Lovenox on that Friday with a very faint test and a very low HCG and it was up to 77 on Monday. It was doubling or tripling in the appropriate amount of time. I kept going back and it kept going. He is sleeping in the other room right now, so he clearly stuck. I really contribute his life honestly to Carly’s dream and the fact that I never would have taken a pregnancy test. It was a Friday. I was able to be so proactive about the medicine and care that I needed. I knew when she told me the dream, I said, “I’m pregnant. This is going to be my VBAC.” I just knew it in my bones so intimately. I really don’t know how to explain it. It was just a soul-knowing. I just knew. 

    She was like, “The dream wasn’t literal, Abby. I’m not saying you’re pregnant right now.” I was like, “Nope. I know.” I just knew. I just knew. People always say things like that, but that had never been my experience, especially trying to conceive. You’re always like, “Oh, I stubbed my toe. Is that a sign of pregnancy?” You’re looking for every little thing and this time it was like, “No. I’m pregnant.” We’ve wanted a boy the whole time and I was like, “This is going to be my boy and this is going to be my VBAC.” I just knew. 

    So really, on day one I started fighting like hell for my VBAC because it was after two and I knew that I was going to need to basically be a psycho about it. I think that’s my biggest VBAC advice for people is that if you really want a VBAC, you have to kind of have to be a psycho about it because no one wants you to have a VBAC more than you want to have a VBAC. You need to advocate for yourself. I think a lot of people can take a sort of, “If it happens, it happens” attitude and that is fine if that is how you truly feel about it. If it happens, it happens but if you really, really, really want a VBAC, you have to really, really, really fight for your VBAC no matter how supportive your providers are, no matter how wonderful your doula is, it’s only you who is going to get you that birth. You’re the one who has to push the baby out. You’re the one who has to do all of the work even if there are people helping you. 

    And I did day one. We would like a large family, so our position from the beginning of the pregnancy was, “Well, if this baby is a C-section, then are probably done.” I really don’t want to put myself through more than three C-sections. The other two were so deeply traumatic for everyone in our family. I can’t imagine recovering from a C-section with three or four children. We are going to be done. So that really lit a fire under me to fight for it even more. Even if we do decide now to be done, I didn’t want surgery to be what decided the size of my family. That was something I felt really strongly about. 

    I started chiropractic on day one. I started doing all of the things. I took obviously all of my medicines and I just took really good care of myself and my body. I think bodywork played a huge part in my pregnancy this time around. We found out at 20 weeks at my anatomy scan that the baby was breech. I’d never had a breech baby. All of my babies were OP before, so I was like, “Okay. Surely this is 20 weeks. He’s obviously going to flip at some point.” He really didn’t. He was breech until 35, so I went to a Webster chiro twice a week. I did moxibustion. I did all of the Spinning Babies. I hung upside down off my couch 700 times a minute and did everything you could possibly do, handstands in the pool to flip a breech baby. Really, nothing was working. 

    I went to a bodyworker who was like, I don’t really even know how to explain what he does, it’s something between chiropractic and massage therapy, but he tried to manually move the baby for me. It never worked. Nothing happened. They told me I couldn’t have an ECV because I was a VBAC after two and my last birth was so recent and I had an anterior placenta. 

    Meagan: All of the cards were stacked against you. 

    Abby: So many cards. I basically was like, “I have this deadline. If I made it to 39, they’re going to schedule me if he doesn’t flip by then.” It was really dark honestly because I had that deep knowledge the whole time that this was going to be my VBAC. I really started to doubt that and say, “I’ve had such shit luck before now.” Sorry if I’m not allowed to cuss on the podcast. 

    Meagan: You’re just fine. 

    Abby: Maybe my terrible luck is going to continue and it wasn’t a true feeling, it was just a desire. He finally flipped after a lot of tears and a lot of, “I think I’m going to have to have a C-section.” I went to birth trauma therapy for the whole time. We talked a lot about, “Okay, well what happens if you do have to have a C-section? How are you going to be okay with it if that is the outcome?” He eventually flipped which, praise God, was amazing but the minute he flipped, he was LOA. I have never had a baby in a proper birth position. That is intense, girlfriend. He was down low doing what he was supposed to be doing and I was like, “Ow. This is a lot of pressure all of the time.” It was just constant pressure. It felt like a lot of contractions. They were obviously prodromal, but with my experience with Hadley, I just ignored them the whole time. 

    I was like, “La, la, la, la, la. Nothing is happening.” He flipped at 35.5, maybe 36. The contractions really picked up right away. I never had a cervical check, so I don’t know this but I have a feeling that I was walking around at a 3 or a 4 for a while. I was having very regular contractions, not necessarily timeable, but they were real for sure and doing something for sure. His position was doing something also. He was putting pressure down low and dilating me in my opinion. 

    At about, I guess it was 38, everyone kept saying, my doula kept saying, “I think you’re going to go early. I really think you’re not going to make it.” I was like, “I’m going to go 42. Nobody is going to stop me. I will do whatever I need to do.” 

    Meagan: Mentally prepared. 

    Abby: I will have a 42-hour labor, okay? I will have a 42-hour labor if I need to have a 42-hour labor. I will do all of the things. They were all like, “No. You’re not going to make it.” But then, when you keep not having the baby, you’re like, “This is making me crazy.” Prodromal labor is insane. It’s such a mental game. It’s just like, “Is this it? Is this it? Is this it?” especially because I’d never gone into labor naturally before. But when it was it, I knew. There’s really no denying it. I went to the chiropractor in the afternoon. 

    I’m so excited. I’m about to start telling my VBAC story. Sorry I’m long-winded, but this right here is truly what I’ve been dreaming of for a really long time, so thank you for giving me this space to share my story. 

    Meagan: Yes. I love it.

    Abby: I went to the chiropractor on a Monday at 4:00 and I said, “I think I’m going to go early. I’ve been having all of these contractions.” I had one while I was standing there talking to her. She actually encouraged me to get a membrane sweep. I denied them the whole time with all of my midwives. I was just like, “No, no, no. I’m not doing that.” She was like, “Hey, I went to 42 and I wish I had started the process a little earlier.” It made me doubt all of the prodromal labor I had been having because I was like, “Why do you think I need a membrane sweep? I’m obviously having a baby in the next five days.”

    Meagan: Yeah. You’re like, “My body’s working.” 

    Abby: Exactly. That’s what I thought. I was like, “I don’t know about that.” But I had a contraction while I was standing there talking to her, checking out, and paying. She said, “Are you having a contraction right now?” I was like, “Yeah. This is just what it’s been like lately.” I went home and was annoyed by the contractions. I drank a Body Armour with some electrolytes and took a bath because that usually slows the prodromal down. I had five contractions in the bath. I was like, “Hmm.” So I texted my doula and was like, “Usually when I take a bath, it stops the contractions. Surely this means that something is happening.”

    I didn’t mention that for the last two weeks once he flipped his head down, I started bleeding pretty regularly. I’m on blood thinners, so I could get a papercut and it would be like the red sea, so it was not all that concerning. My doctors were like, “Well, it’s not your uterus. The baby is okay. You would be in pain if you had a rupture. Everything seems okay.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Abby: My poor doula, I texted her a lot of pictures being like, “Is this bloody show? Is this bloody show? Do you think that this is bloody show?” But finally, on the night that I took a bath and had contractions in the bath, she said, “That looks like blood show.” I was like, “All right. Okay. Now we’re cooking with gas. Something is happening.” 

    I got out of the bath and was very annoyed. We had a long day. We have two other kids and my husband and I were both just so tired and wanted to go to bed. He said, “Can I make you some dinner?” I don’t think I had eaten anything. He said, “I have a couple of steaks. Can I make you some steaks?” I was like, “That sounds awesome.” I was like, “I’m just going to sit in bed. I’m going to watch New Girl and ignore these contractions and eat some steak.” I attempted to do that, but the contractions were starting to pick up and I couldn’t eat. I had to eat in between contractions and chew and swallow. I was not enjoying the steak at all. 

    I lay down and I felt a pop. I had experienced my water breaking with Ginnie and I was like, “That was my water.” I texted my doula and said, “I think my water just broke.” She had been fielding all of these texts from me for the last two weeks about the blood and contractions and blah, blah, blah so it’s not that she didn’t believe me, but she was just like, “Okay, so tell me what makes you think that your water just broke.” I said, “Well, I didn’t pee.” She was like, “Okay.” I got up out of bed. My husband had just put down a piddle pad underneath the sheets because he was like, “You know, just in case. You’re having all of these contractions.” I didn’t want to totally ruin the mattress, so I hopped up out of bed really quickly because I wanted to go back to sleep after my water had broken. I was like, “Even if there’s a piddle pad, I don’t want the sheets to be wet because I want to sleep in them.” 

    It was a flood. It was very much my water. I was like, “Okay. Nope. That’s okay. Things are happening.” And things really did start to happen so, so quickly. You know, as a doula, you have all of these numbers in your head of, “Okay, so there’s 5-1-1 and you call the doula when it’s 5-1-1 and then you go to the hospital when it’s 4-1-1 and your contractions are a minute long and not slowing down in intensity.” That was very much not my experience. 

    It was 0 to 60. I think the prodromal that I had been having just ramped my body right up and so there was no real labor. 

    Meagan: That’s the thing. Prodromal labor can do that because your body has been working. We call it prodromal labor but it’s not like your body wasn’t just doing anything. 

    Abby: It did. It felt like it was doing nothing but it clearly was doing work. 

    Meagan: It was. Yes. So listeners, if you have prodromal labor, seriously, just be on the lookout. Sometimes when labor does start and you’ve had a history of prodromal labor, it can start right out of the gate. 

    Abby: It was aggressive. 

    Meagan: Yes. 

    Abby: So basically, immediately my contractions were two minutes apart and at first, they were 40 seconds. My doula was like, “You know, they can start out intense and maybe taper off a little bit.” That is not the direction that it went. They started ramping up in intensity. I watched about four minutes of New Girl and was like, “That’s it.” And we were so tired. I just kept saying, “I want to do this tomorrow. I really just want it to wait.” 

    With my middle child, I had been able to go to sleep after my water broke. I slept all night in my own bed and it just ramped up intensely so quickly. I hadn’t washed my hair when I took a bath. It was just a soaky kind of bath, so I was like, “I’m going to go take a shower.” I wanted to wash my hair in the shower. I felt like then my doula could braid it and it would look cute in the morning and I’ll just have clean hair. If I ended up with a C-section, I wouldn’t be able to wash my hair for five days, so I might as well just do it now. 

    My contractions picked up in the shower and I remember getting back onto my bed and being like, “I don’t know how I’m going to get dressed.” 

    Meagan: So intense. 

    Abby: So intense. I just was expecting, even with the second birth, the contractions with the Pit were scheduled essentially. They were intense, but they were scheduled, so you get a break in between them. You get to, “Okay. Let me take a deep breath. Let me reassess.” There was no time for reassessing. Honestly, it was really scary. I have to be honest and say that I’ve had a lot of people say, “I’m so glad you got your dream VBAC.” I was like, “I don’t think I would use those words.” I got a VBAC and I’m so glad that I did, but it was really, really scary because it was just so intense so quickly. Part of the birth plan was to stay at home for as long as possible. You don’t want to go too soon and have them tell you that you’re 2 centimeters and all of a sudden, you’re stuck at a hospital, especially with your water broken. 

    I just remember struggling to get dressed and telling my husband, “I think we need to go to the hospital.” He was like, “It’s literally my job to tell her not to go to the hospital. I have one job and it’s to not let her go there.” 

    Meagan: It’s to say no. 

    Abby: I’m not supposed to do that. These are very specific instructions. So he called my doula and was like, “She’s begging for you. She’s really starting to moan through them and not be able to get sentences out.” She said, “Let me listen to her.” He put me on speaker and she said, “I’m going to meet you at the hospital. I think it’s time to go.” I was like, “Thank God someone is letting me go to the hospital so I could get an epidural.” I was ready for this show to be over. I was like, “If I get an epidural, they’ll let me take a nap.” All I wanted was to go back to sleep. I just wanted to go back to sleep. 

    We got in the car. My friend was coming to keep our children and just sleep on our couch while we were going to the hospital and we were about to leave before she even got here. They were well asleep. It was 10:00 at night, but we were like, “We have to just leave the front door open for you.” She ended up making it. She saw me in the front yard and she was like, “Brian, do you think she’s in transition right now?” He was like, “I don’t know but this is really intense.” The car ride was horrible. We only live 9 minutes from the hospital, but it was just so intense, and just no breaks. It was scary and so painful. 

    I follow pain-free birth on Instagram and they are liars. It is not pain-free. I just don’t want anyone to listen to this podcast and be like, “Pain-free is what I experienced” because it is not. It is excruciating. You always think you are a badass until you’re not. I was like, “No. Get me an epidural right now. I am dying. I will do anything. Just send me the anesthesiologist right now.” So by the time we made it to the hospital 9 minutes later, I was screaming. Screaming like in the movies and we always joke as my husband and I are now birthy people, I’ve transformed him to the dark side. 

    Meagan: I love it so much. It all started with the Business of Being Born. 

    Abby: Exactly. 

    Meagan: Second date. 

    Abby: Oh, literally. We always make fun of Hollywood movies where this woman’s water breaks and she is screaming in the hospital 20 minutes later and that is exactly what happened to me. It was so instant. My water broke at 8:30. We called my doula at 9:30 and she said, “Holy crap. Go to the hospital.” We got to the hospital. Oh, I wish I had the exact timeline. I might have to look. We got to the hospital and I was screaming bloody murder getting out of the car. I don’t even know how I walked out of the car to get to where I needed to be. 

    The woman at the front desk heard me screaming and ran to get a wheelchair for me and run me up to the OB floor because this poor woman was like, “We are not having a baby in the lobby today.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. I’m sure. 

    Abby: She truly was like, “Go. This is my job. I’m going.” She ran me up to the OB floor and my doula apparently pulled in right behind us. She was on the floor but heard me screaming through the elevator from the 8th floor. I was screaming Meagan. It was a lot. I feel like I owe a lot of people some cookies at the hospital. My midwife said that I came in hot. 

    Meagan: You came in hot. 

    Abby: I really did. They were running me down the hall and this poor, I will never forget, this poor girl at the triage desk was very obviously new and she asked me if I could fill out paperwork. I was like, “Do I look like I could fill out paperwork right now?” I was sideways in the wheelchair with my leg up yelling at everyone. I just was like, “No. I will not be filling out paperwork right now.” 

    They took me to triage which honestly was BS. I was like, “I’m obviously having a baby. Why do I need to go to triage?” But they saw me right away which was very helpful. I saw a midwife I had never met before which made me nervous because as a VBAC mom, you’re like, “I want to know that it’s the right people.”

    Meagan: Right. 

    Abby: But around the corner comes– they tried to get an IV in my arm. I was flailing. There was just no way that that was going to happen which was awesome. I didn’t want an IV anyway. But around the corner comes a student midwife who has been with me through my whole pregnancy. She shadowed a bunch of different midwives and I saw her several times. We actually had a really wonderful conversation. I guess one of the times the baby was breech at the doctor and I told her about my birth trauma and how difficult it was for me and all of the reasons we didn’t want another C-section and she just gave me the most trauma-informed care. She just sat and listened to me well beyond the time of the appointment. She made friends with my five-year-old during the appointments. She was just such a light.

    The midwife came in and she said, “Hi, I’m Barb and I have a student with me today.” I had literally just been screaming at everyone in the room and I said, “Is it Cara?” and it was her. I gave her a big hug. She was like, “It’s me!” and it was the most joyful moment of a really, really intense birth. It was 3 and a half hours from start to finish. It was so, so fast. It was a very intense, honestly scary time but seeing Cara was just like, “Okay. You are a safe person for me right now.” It felt like, “I know that you know how badly I want this and I know that you are going to do everything in your power to help me get it and why this is important to our family.” It was just like, “Okay.”

    But I still didn’t calm down. I was not calm. None of it was a calm experience at all. There was just no time to emotionally switch from sitting in my bed watching New Girl to I’m at a hospital having a baby. It was just so quick that I couldn’t wrap my head around the change in my life situation. They checked me and it was Cara who checked me, the student midwife. She said, “Well, you’re an 8.5.” I was like, “Okay.” My husband was like, “What? I was not supposed to come to the hospital,” and then he was like, “Oh my gosh. Thank God I came to the hospital. I’m so glad I’m not delivering a baby on our toilet right now.” That was not what he wanted at all. 

    She said, “You can start pushing though.” No one ever told me that I was 10 which I thought was interesting. She basically said, “If you’re feeling pushy, you can push.” I was like, “I just want this baby out of me because I want this to be over. I’m very much done with this process.” So they took me to an L&D room and tried to switch me from a triage bed to the regular bed and I truly was in so much pain with no breaks in the contractions that I was like, “No. I can’t even get on the bed.” They were like, “Trust me. You don’t want to be on the triage bed to deliver a baby. Try to get over there.” 

    Every movement that I made felt so challenging and so painful. They asked if I wanted to– I went on my hands and knees and they were like, “Is that comfortable?” I was like, “Do I look comfortable?” It was just the most erroneous question. I was like, “What part of me screaming makes you think that anything about this is comfortable right now?” Of course, it was too late to get an epidural, so when they tell me that it was basically time to push, I was like, “I don’t want that. I just want to take a nap. I just want an epidural.” When she said 8, I was like, “Oh no. I have to do this. I have to be here and I have to do this.” 

    Obviously, in retrospect, I’m very glad that it was too late and that I did it, but it was truly just so, so intense. Again, just how quickly it happened just did not allow time for me to even understand what was happening. But I started pushing when we got in L&D and the midwife who was very old school, I’m not going to guess her age but she’s older, got in my face. I’m an Alabama football fan, so I kept saying that I needed someone to Nick Saban me in labor. I needed, “All right, Abby. Here’s the deal. See you at the finish line.” 

    I had never met her before. She totally got in my face and Nick Saban’d me. She said, “Abby.” I said, “I just want the baby out. I just want this to be over. I just want to get the baby out.” She was like, “We can get the baby out. You can get the baby out, but you have to stop screaming. You’re letting all of your power out of the top of your body by screaming. You have to channel that. Take a deep breath and push down.” I just felt totally incapable of that, but I was again, so over it that I just was like, “Okay. I guess I’m just going to do whatever this random lady says.” 

    I started pushing and less than 30 minutes later, my son was born. I was at the hospital for 48 minutes before he was born. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Abby: Truly like a movie. It was just the fastest thing I’ve ever experienced. It was really scary and apparently, it was also really scary for him because he came out not breathing. 

    Meagan: Fast transition. 

    Abby: Yes. It was so fast. Everything was so fast. It’s officially precipitous labor, the timeframe that I experienced. He was just totally unresponsive. My doula said that she saw his chest rising and falling when they took him away, but you want the pull the baby up on your chest experience. I was so shocked when I pushed him out. Pushing was so hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and they told me that I could see his head. I touched his head and I was like, “Oh my gosh, there is a baby coming out of my vagina. I can’t believe that this is happening.” But the endorphins that you sort of expect to follow didn’t really happen because we were panicking. 

    My husband and I were like, bawling and praying out loud and just were so nervous that the baby was not going to be okay. My doula said that it was less than three minutes, but of course, it felt like an eternity. It was terrible. There were eight people around him on the table and oxygen. It was just a very medical experience. Again, I’ve had a lot of weird birth things and when I first envisioned being a mom, I envisioned a home birth really. All of my births have had reasons that they needed to be at a hospital. 

    With Ginnie, praise the Lord that I was on an operating table when I threw a pulmonary embolism and that there was a cardiac anesthesiologist that knew. Honestly, had I had a vaginal birth with Ginnie, that pulmonary embolism would have flowed up into my lungs walking around my culdesac on a Tuesday and I wouldn’t be here. That’s just not the kind of thing that you can come back from. They are literally called the silent killer for that reason. 

    It’s hard to admit that the way that I wanted things to happen was not the way that they happened, but I am so thankful for all of the medical people and all of the things that happened the way they happened because my children are safe and I’m safe. That doesn’t make things any less traumatizing if you’ve experienced trauma, but it’s just really overwhelming to think about how things could have happened had I been more stubborn or insistent on a home birth this time or whatever. So I think my biggest shift obviously once the baby was okay and everything, I had a second-degree tear which was no big deal. She stitched me up. That took forever. I was kind of over it by that point. 

    By the time she was done and they had handed him to me and everything was fine, people had cleared out of the room, I had to go to the bathroom. I had so much water during labor. I have a big Stanley cup and I just kept asking my husband to give me water in between every single contraction. I was like, “Water, water, water.” It was the only thing I said for an hour. I was like, “I really have to go to the bathroom” and the nurse just looked at me and was like, “Okay. It’s over there.” I was like, “I can go to the bathroom? I can just stand up and go to the bathroom?” And I did. 

    She was like, “I can help you.” She wasn’t trying to be rude or anything. She was like, “Okay, yeah. We can totally go.” I was like, “No, I think I can go to the bathroom.” Totally unmedicated. I had no IVs. The continuous fetal monitoring did happen, but it was someone just holding. They didn’t even have time to put anything on me. They just held it down at the bottom of my belly. I was pretty unencumbered and by the time I was done, I could just get up and go to the bathroom. I took a shower in the postpartum room the next day and everything was just like night and day. 

    I have already taken walks with my family. I took the baby out of the house yesterday by myself. I carried his car seat by myself. The recovery is, my birth was not a dream birth. It was terrifying and I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad I did it. It’s amazing and empowering, so don’t hear me saying that it wasn’t amazing, but the postpartum experience is what has solidified for me that it was worth every second because for three and a half intense hours, I don’t have to have four-plus really terrible weeks trying to recover from a major abdominal surgery, so it was worth every very, very intense second. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. 

    Abby: I know, I’m sorry. 

    Meagan: Well congratulations. 

    Abby: Thank you. It’s a very long story. 

    Meagan: Congratulations. It’s okay. I love it. I love it so much. I appreciate your sharing. I could just feel the intensity. 

    Abby: Oh, it was intense. 

    Meagan: I’m sure for everybody it was just like, “Ahh!” So much was happening and those precipitous births, just recently recording, I think it was last week’s episode was accidentally at home. Sometimes there are these babies that just come and they are ready to go. I really appreciate you sharing your story. 

    Abby: I’m so glad. I’m so glad. It was really such a joy and overwhelming to be here. Honestly, thank you. I feel like what you do is just such a service to women. When you have a C-section, you might think that your body is incapable or not able to do what you thought it might be able to do and it’s really disempowering to feel that way. So to hear these stories is such a gift. I just ate them up like candy. I listened to The VBAC Link on the day that I went into labor and I was going on a walk before I went to the chiropractor. It just gave me the power to say, “I think I really can do this.” And I did. So thank you for what you do. 

    Meagan: And now, you’re one of those stories. 

    Abby: I’m one of those stories.

    Meagan: Before we go, I just wanted to share with everybody if you guys want to go find Abby on social media, again, she’s not actively doula-ing right now, but I can see it in the future. 

    Abby: Definitely. 

    Meagan: She’s at @AbbyKraftMac which I absolutely love.

    Abby: Yes. Kraft with a K. 

    Meagan: Yep. Kraft with a K or abbykraftmac.com. We’ll make sure to be tagging you today on Instagram and all of the things. So thank you again so much for being here. 

    Abby: Thank you, friend. I’m so thankful. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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    1h 11m | Mar 1, 2023
  • Episode 223 Mikaella's Precipitous VBAC + Overcoming Trauma + JULIE!

    We are so excited to be joined by Mikaella as our guest and our dear Julie as a cohost today! Mikaella’s VBAC story is one of redemption, healing, and embracing the unexpected. 

    By allowing herself to recognize that her Cesarean birth was traumatic, Mikaella was able to begin her healing journey and prepare for her VBAC. As her birth progressed, plans changed from a faraway hospital to her local hospital to a fast and furious birth at home! 

    Julie, Mikaella, and Meagan share thoughts on the importance of acknowledging our traumas and how to avoid comparing them to others. 

    Additional Links

    Mikaella’s Instagram

    Clark Film and Photo

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Meagan: Good morning and welcome to The VBAC Link or maybe it’s the afternoon or evening or I don’t even know. Whenever it is that you are listening, welcome to The VBAC Link. This is Meagan, your host, and guess what, you guys? We have Julie today as a cohost!

    Julie: Yay! Hi. 

    Meagan: It’s always so fun to have Julie on and today is actually one of her own clients which is super fun. I love when we have a doula client on the podcast because you can just connect with the story and people are bouncing back and forth, so it is so fun. She is here from Utah, so we are all Utahns today here on the podcast. 

    Review of the Week

    We’re going to jump into a review, and then I’m going to tell you more about our guest Mikaella. 

    Julie: Yeah, I’m so excited to be here. I was a little nervous this morning. I’m not going to lie. It’s so strange being on here as a guest instead of a regular host. I don’t know. It’s just this weird little thing, but also I wanted to clarify that Mikaella is actually a birth photography and video client of mine. She had a separate doula, Jenessa who is incredible. But she’s going to go into that more in her story, I’m sure about it. 

    I do have a review and I love this review. It’s incredible. It was by springr and the title of the review is, “Wow, Just Wow.” I love that. She says, “I’m what I like to consider a still pretty new mama, but I’m also a C-section mom. For a while, I really thought that’s what I would always be. I hit some pretty dark places, but this podcast has given me light. I listen to multiple episodes a day and have a long stream of notes on my phone.” Let me add, I’m not pregnant again, but that’s how prepared I want to be when we do get there for our next baby. This podcast has given me my first tool to get there. Recently, as quarantine life has become the new normal, I’ve almost always got an episode buzzing in my ear. My husband says I’ve got a bit of an addiction. I snapped back really quick and said, ‘I’ve got hope. It helps me believe in myself.’ He quickly got quiet.” 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh, I love that. 

    Julie: Yeah. “These ladies answer personal messages asking for help. I just can’t say enough good things. They are that good. This podcast is just that good. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 

    This sounds familiar actually, this review. It might be somebody that has contacted me and wants to hire me as a doula when she gets pregnant. Now I’m just thinking because that review did sound a little bit familiar. Anyways, we’ve been talking for a bit of a year now and she’s not even pregnant. Anyways, it might be. Who knows, it might be completely random and somebody else but when she said personal messages, I was like, “Oh, maybe.” Thank you so much to whoever left it. 

    Meagan: Maybe. Well, I love that review. And you know what? That’s okay if you are addicted to a podcast. I have podcasts that I’m addicted to and I always have an AirPod that I actually have lost now. There is one missing because apparently, I can’t put it right back in the case. I just sit there and I listen to my podcast in one ear and then do life in the other while I’m doing things and that’s okay. I love it though. I love that this podcast gives you hope. That is exactly why this podcast is the podcast. That is exactly why it is here. It’s to give people hope, inspiration, and motivation, and to empower you to make choices that are best for you for your birthing day. So thank you so much for that review. 

    Mikaella’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Mikaella. We are so excited to have Mikaella on. 

    Mikaella: Hi. 

    Meagan: Hi, yes. Thank you so much for taking the time today. You have a lot of things. You’re a photographer, right as well? 

    Mikaella: Yes, yep. 

    Meagan: Okay, and then you have three kiddos and you have been a 911 dispatcher for five years. Love that. That’s really cool. I love that you say trash reality TV is your guilty pleasure. That is so funny. I love that you also love Taco Bell because I have this weakness for Taco Bell too. In fact, we just went on a weekend trip for my daughter’s gymnastics meet in St. George, Utah and we got a taco from St. George. You guys, it’s the best Taco Bell taco I’ve ever had. Like seriously, St. George does it right. So when you are in St. George next time, you should go to Taco Bell. 

    Julie: Meagan and Mikaella, you guys. I’m sorry but Taco Bell is not very good. 

    Meagan: Do you know what? It depends on the Taco Bell because the Taco Bell by my house sucks. But St. George, holy cow. Even my husband was like, “That was the best Taco Bell ever.” I was like, “Right?” So I love that. I love that so much and I’m so excited to dive into this story because I love hearing the big baby stories. It sounds like you heard, “Big baby, big baby, big baby” for so long and so many people telling you that you’re not a good candidate for VBAC, and then boom. 

    Julie: Boom. 

    Mikaella: Basically, that’s the best way to put it. 

    Meagan: So let’s turn the time over to you to share your stories and how this big baby and a non-VBAC candidate mom rocked her VBAC. 

    Mikaella: So I have three kids. I have a five-year-old Claire, a three-year-old Boston, and then Charlie is my VBAC baby. I feel like Charlie’s VBAC story really starts with 21-year-old first-time mom Mikaella who knew nothing. I was along for the ride. I had no interest in pursuing any sort of birth education or anything like that especially with my mom’s own traumatic birth history so I was like, “Whatever happens happens. It’s fine.” For my first birth, that was okay. It wasn’t that big of a deal. I do wish I had been equipped with more knowledge, but it was smooth sailing for the most part. 

    She came on her own the morning of my scheduled induction so I was already in labor when I got there anyway. My body was doing what it was supposed to do. She ended up being vacuum assisted because she was posterior and then it ended up being a trend with all of my babies with them being posterior so that was a really big worry I had with Charlie. 

    It just felt like a normal birth experience. 

    And then Boston because Claire’s was so normal, I went in feeling like, “Oh, nope. I’ve got it, no problem.” Then I was talked into an induction because I was along for the ride. I didn’t know the ins and outs and the cascade of interventions and things like that. I was induced about a week early with him. Both he and Claire, my labors were about 12 hours long with lots and lots and lots of pushing. But with him, I felt completely out of control from being induced and having my dura nicked with the epidural. Then I had some major blood loss that was still unexplained there in the middle which was pretty traumatic. With him, I pushed for hours as well and he was just not coming out. He was so stuck. 

    My provider was not pushy at all actually. He was very, “Here are your options. You can keep pushing. We can try a vacuum with him too, but if he gets stuck, it’s going to be more complicated with him being farther down the birth canal.” 

    So we opted for a C-section with him. I don’t know. I think I reacted really strongly to the extra medication because I was numb from the chin down. It was a very unpleasant experience which just added the whole out-of-control feeling. I went in there and as I’m feeling them tugging, I didn’t feel any pain which was great. I was feeling the tugging and then everybody starts laughing. I was like, “This is not the time to be laughing. What is going on?” They pulled him out and were like, “He’s huge.” He was. He was a 12-pound baby. 

    There was probably no way I was actually going to get him out on my own, but ever since having him, everyone was like, “Oh you just make big babies,” because my first baby was 8 pounds, 9 ounces. He was 12 pounds. 

    Julie: And he’s still such a big kid. 

    Mikaella: He is a really big kid. 

    Julie: He is so cute. 

    Mikaella: He’s bigger than all of the other kids in my preschooler’s class and he’s only three. He’s just big like my whole mom’s side of the family. So after his birth, it took a long time to be able to talk about it out loud. I posted a really watered-down and foggy version on Facebook as a birth announcement post, but I don’t even remember writing half of it. I just remember feeling traumatized but not that the trauma was valid because I knew people with worse stories and that was something that I had to come to grips with. My trauma was still valid despite it not being maybe as bad as somebody else’s. 

    Meagan: Totally, yeah. 

    Mikaella: I knew we wanted more kids, but there was so much anxiety surrounding the decision of when to have more kids so there was a little bit more of a gap between Boston and Charlie. I was still pretty afraid of birth until I had a life-changing experience attending a birth as a photographer. It was actually for Jenessa who ended up being my doula later down the road but it was this beautiful, intimate home birth. I found it so healing. She was singing through her contractions and the atmosphere was just so sweet and loving. She was definitely in charge and she knew what she wanted. She was a practical stranger at that point, but it was still such a positive experience to watch her have such a positive birth experience. It was life-changing. 

    So then when I got pregnant again, I knew I did not want a C-section just based on how the last one had felt. I didn’t even want an epidural based on the spinal headache I had gotten with my dura being nicked. I felt like having the epidural and not being able to move around during labor contributed a lot to both of my babies getting stuck, so I felt like being able to move in labor was going to be really important to me. 

    My OB who delivered Boston was actually super supportive but I wasn’t allowed to VBAC at the hospital. Where I live is a really rural area. He said he would send me north whenever I went into labor, but I really wanted to know my birth team. With that it option, it was just, “You get who you get and hopefully they’re supportive of a VBAC too,” which I think we’ve all come to realize is hard to find VBAC-supportive providers. 

    Meagan: Very, very, yeah.

    Mikaella: So when I was looking for a provider, I went through so many, but I began my research. I met with multiple providers and I just kept hearing, “You make big babies. You make big babies,” because Claire was 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and Boston was 12 pounds. “You just make big babies and it would just be easier for you to have a C-section. Here are all of the risks and complications of a VBAC,” but no one wants to talk about the complications of a repeat C-section, right? 

    This one particular OB, I don’t know if I can shout him out because he might be really upset. I want to make sure that no one else looking for a VBAC goes to him. He didn’t even give me the decency of a conversation before completely shutting me down. I had gone in. I spoke with the nurse. She was like, “Whatever you want, you get. You are the birthing mom.” I was feeling on cloud 9. I was even texting my husband, “This is going so well,” as she was checking me in. I guess the casual conversation that I was having with her about my birth history, she relayed to him in the five-minute span before he came into the room and that was all it took for him to decide that I was not a good candidate for a VBAC at all. 

    He didn’t want to talk about the preparations I had made, that I had a doula, that I didn’t feel as big as I was with Boston. None of that even mattered. 

    Meagan: He just put a label on you and was done.

    Mikaella: Immediately. Immediately. There was no conversation about any of it. Not about my birth history. Even my original OB who delivered my last baby was like, “No, you can do that. That’s fine,” but it just said that it made him and his staff uncomfortable. I ended up at Valley Women’s Health, the Orem Midwives’ Group at 35 weeks pregnant and I just stuck with them because they were the first ones to not tell me no right away. 

    There were still some things that I was hesitant about. There was a lot of, “You’ll have to do this and this and this. These are the requirements, but sure. We’ll try,” kind of thing. I did, however, have to go through a VBAC consultation at Utah Valley where they all discuss the risks of a VBAC. Nothing about the risks of a repeat C-section of course. They had me sign all of those forms and then had me do a growth scan which showed Charlie being about three weeks ahead. She was going to be absolutely massive according to them. 

    I did not feel big at all at least compared to my last two. I was more active in this labor. I was eating healthily. I was doing all of the stretches and sitting in the right positions to make sure that she wasn’t posterior too. I just felt like I could do it. It really helped to feel like I was going to be in charge of this birth. My doula was very, very supportive all the way through. She was just like, “No. You’ve got this. You can do this. I know you and I know your willpower,” so she was a huge support that way and as well as my husband. He’s never not backed me on anything. He’s great. 

    I should also add that the hospital where I was going to deliver is about an hour and a half away from me. Only like what, five minutes away from you, Julie? 

    Julie: Yeah, it’s about 20 minutes from me, but super far from you. 

    Mikaella: Okay, you’re a little bit further. I was thinking it was only about five minutes away. I was preparing to labor in the car. They had been like, “Are you sure you don’t want to be induced?” I was like, “Nope. I don’t want to intervene with this at all. My body is going to do its own process.” I was mentally preparing myself to labor for an hour and a half in our van. I had my husband get the puppy pads ready and line the bottom of the van with the puppy pads. 

    I woke up to my strongest contraction at about 4:00 AM and that’s when I began timing them. I got in the shower to see if they would get closer together and then they started getting closer together really fast. The timeline is kind of foggy, but the contractions were so strong. I texted my doula at 5:30 letting her know that my contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart and that I was going to try and leave soon. She was going to have plenty of time because she was right next to the hospital, but in reality, I had only maybe two more contractions that far apart. 

    It was just happening and happening really fast. I called my mom. She was getting ready to come over and I woke up Preston and had him load up the car while I was getting dressed. I do actually wish I had had him with me during those moments, but at that point, I thought we were still going to make the hour-and-a-half drive to the hospital, so I was like, “No. Get this. Get my bag. Get my charger. Throw all of the things in there,” the last minute things and grab whatever. Just throw it in the van.

    So he was running around like crazy trying to make sure he’s got everything. I couldn’t even get my pants on in between the contractions. I was sitting in the same spot just powering through these contractions. I remember thinking, “There’s no way that I can do this unmedicated. I’m going to get that epidural as soon as I get to the hospital,” because all that I’ve heard in all of my research is that when you think you can’t do it anymore, that’s when you’re at the end. I was like, “Well, I just barely started. How am I supposed to make it any farther than this?” and not realizing that I was actually right there at the end with how quick it was all going. 

    Meagan: Oh my goodness. 

    Mikaella: Yeah. It was about 30 minutes later that I knew we were not going to make it up to Provo. I called my doula and I think that was all I said. “I think we’re not going to make it to the hospital.” She’s like, “Oh, okay. Well, get to Sanpete Valley,” the one that’s only 20 minutes away. “They can’t force you to do anything,” because that was my biggest worry. I was like, “I don’t want them to just throw me on a table as soon as I get there.” 

    That contraction that I had on the phone with her was actually the only one that I was able to have my husband doing counterpressure for. I was just bracing myself against the tub. He’s doing his best because we really thought that I was going to have a doula there. She would be able to walk him through things. I wasn’t the most prepared. I’m not going to lie as far as the actual coping mechanisms, I think, that I was going to use. I had a metal comb that is used for dog grooming that I was clutching in my hand as tight as possible. 

    Meagan: Powerful. 

    Mikaella: Yep. I loved having that thing. That was a godsend honestly.  My mom arrived at about 6:15 and I was just holding onto her. It’s funny because the two births I attended were so peaceful and one like I said, Jenessa was singing through her contractions. It was a beautiful environment and then another friend of mine was low moaning. It was a quiet atmosphere still and I am just screaming. You could even hear it in the background of the 911 call that my husband had to make. I’m just losing it in the background. I’m like, “This is not the calm, cool atmosphere that I was expecting.”

    But my mom got there. I had a super strong contraction and I was just feeling the irresistible urge to push. When I sat back up after that contraction, I felt my water which was bulging and that’s when I had to tell my husband to call 911. He was like, “Oh, okay. This is happening right now and right here. We are not making it to the hospital.” 

    Because I am a 911 dispatcher, the operator that he called is my coworker, so I knew the instructions she was going to give me. I was not about to lay on my back even though she was about to tell me to. He kept telling me, “She says that you’ve got to get on my back.” “I am not getting on my back. That is not what I want to do right now. Just tell her to get the ambulance here. We’ll make it work.”

    At that moment, I made it from my bedroom floor back to my bathroom which is the tiniest room in my house. I don’t know why I felt like I needed to be in there. But the EMT that lives around the corner arrived as I was crowning. I’m holding onto my mom. I did finally end up laying down, but she arrived as I’m crowning. With one push, Charlie’s head comes out and my EMT unwraps the cord that was wrapped around her neck. It was wrapped around twice so she was super nervous– the EMT was. 

    Another push and she was out. She was super pink. She was a really healthy color. What was really cool was that this whole time, despite it not being my plan at all, there was no fear. There was never a sense of, “This is going wrong.” There was a little bit of panic and there were a lot of self-doubts there in that first hour, but there was no fear. I just was able to trust my body and know what I was doing despite none of it going to plan whatsoever which was a really cool experience. 

    Then they load me up into the ambulance. They took me to the hospital which was where I delivered my placenta. We actually were only there for six hours because, for some reason when you don’t deliver at the hospital, they’re like, “Oh, you can actually go home,” which seemed backward to me but I wasn’t about to fight it. Jenessa and Julie arrived around the same time. I didn’t even call Julie myself. I just told Jenessa, I was like, “Please call Julie and let her know what’s going on.” 

    The rest is history. It was just the most amazing redemptive birth. I got basically everything I wanted. I had written out a list of birth goals that I had wanted and on that list was intermittent monitoring which, I didn’t end up having any monitoring. Getting my VBAC was super important which I got. I didn’t have to have an epidural. I didn’t even have to get an IV. It was just completely and 100% me and that felt incredibly powerful. 

    It’s been a really, really cool story to share especially to other moms who are looking to do VBACs and stuff like that, especially after I was told, “You make big babies. You make big babies.” 

    This was another big baby. She was a 9.5-pound baby who came out on my bathroom floor with no tearing whatsoever. I did that.  

    Meagan: And you did it. You did it very quickly. Very, very quickly. 

    Mikaella: Very, very quickly. From the first contraction that woke me up to her being born was about 2.5 hours total compared to the 12 hours each for my first two kids. 

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. That is amazing. That is so amazing. I’m sure on Julie’s end, she was like, “Oh my gosh. I’ve got to make it. I’ve got to get there.” 

    Julie: Well, let me tell you. Can I tell you my version really fast?

    Mikaella: Yes. 

    Julie: So I met Mikaella. Oh, I don’t even remember. It was a month or something like that before you had your baby or something like that? I was excited because I’ve had clients in the past drive up from 2.5 hours away up here to have their VBACs, so I love those stories. I love people that really want to fight for it. We connected and I got pulled onto the team. I was excited to do a birth with Jenessa as well.


    But that morning, I got a phone call from Jenessa. I want to say it was around 6:00 or 6:30, somewhere around there. It might be a little earlier. She told me that you were in labor, that you had to change plans and go to the local hospital instead, and that you were just going to wing it, push for your VBAC, and fight if you needed to. You were prepared to do that, but things were moving quickly and you weren’t going to make it up to Orem. I was groggy and half awake. I’m like, “So does she still want me to come?”

    I think I asked that or whatever because you know when you’re half awake, I’m like, “I have no idea what to say.” She said, “Yeah. Get dressed and start heading down.” She said she was on her way, so I got dressed and I grabbed my cameras and gear, and headed out. It was about an hour and twenty-minute drive for me or maybe just an hour. I’m not quite sure exactly. 

    So I started heading down and then I was just like, “Please don’t let me miss this birth. Please don’t let me miss this birth.” I was so frustrated because I had missed two other births already this summer because of people having fast babies. I had one VBAC client that went from 3 centimeters to baby in an hour and they didn’t call me in until she was pushing. I was like, “Why, why, why?” and then the other client that I missed had only a 41-minute labor and it was a 46-minute drive for me. 

    I was on my way and I was like, “Please don’t let me miss this birth. Please not another one. Please not another one.” But I was excited to be going and supporting Mikaella. As soon as I was getting ready to go through the canyon in Spanish Fork which is about halfway there, I got another call from Jenessa and she said, “She just delivered her baby on the bathroom floor.” I was like, “What?! She didn’t even make it to the hospital?” I was so surprised. And yes, I was absolutely super sad to miss it, but I’m also super happy that Mikaella got everything she wanted. 

    It’s funny because we have pictures and video clips of you reading off your list of everything that you wanted and stuff. That was super fun to go. I still kept heading down and we did a nice golden hour session. I was there for a few hours with them and the kids came in to meet baby and everything. But it was wild. This summer was wild. There were so many crazy things happening with births and babies. I just actually had a 9.5-pound baby born about a week ago even, a 9-pound, 7-ounce birth center birth. I just love seeing these big babies come flying out into the world just as fierce as they want to be. I love it. I love your story. It’s so wild. I’m excited that you get to tell it today. 

    Mikaella: It’s so fun. I love being able to tell it. I think it’s really cool that Charlie’s got that story that she can tell now too. Now even, she’s got news articles that she can look back on. 

    Meagan: Yes, I was going to say that you said earlier that the news had contacted you and you were on the news. How did that story get out? Were they just like, “Oh my gosh, this accidental home birth.” Did they talk about VBAC in there too? 

    Mikaella: It was very interesting to see how they took my story and spun it. I won’t say it wasn’t factual, but they definitely put a certain light on it I guess you could say. Our local ambulance, two or three more of my coworkers work in the ambulance too so I’m really close with a lot of them. 

    Meagan: I would really like to see this article. 

    Julie: I’ll send it to you or she can send it to you. One of us. 

    Mikaella: I think that there’s a video as well as an actual written one. So basically, our local hospital does an EMS highlight at the end of the year and they decided that they were going to highlight Ephraim's ambulance this year which is where I’m from and the story that they were going to highlight was Charlie’s story. A big emphasis was put on the EMT which I totally appreciate her. I love her. She was a godsend in that moment that she was there and she knew what to do especially with the cord wrapped around Charlie’s neck. 

    There was not a lot about me in the article which I find interesting. It’s not as much about the birthing mother despite it being a birth story. So when the interviewers actually came over to my house, we were just having a casual chitchat before the actual filming and the interview began. They were saying, “The hospital was worried that this was going to make people want to have a home birth. They were worried that we were advocating for a home birth.” She’s like, “You weren’t planning on having a home birth, right?” 

    Julie: What? 

    Mikaella: Yeah. I was like, “Not that there’s anything wrong with having a home birth, but no. That wasn’t the plan.” I was like, “It is now if I have another one. I’m probably just going to have it at home.” I found it interesting that the hospital was like, “Oh, we don’t want to promote home birth because that’s risky,” or whatever. 

    Then in the article, it was very much about EMS which is fine because it was their highlight, but they kept saying, “The baby that came early, the baby that came early.” I was like, “She didn’t come early.” She came maybe two days early before her due date, but she just came fast. 

    Julie: Oh my gosh. What got me was like, “The cord was around her neck and it was so emergent.” They went and talked about how the cord wrapped around her neck was that they saved your baby’s life. That’s what people say. That’s what people think, but we all know that the cord around the neck, 99% of the time is not a problem. 

    Mikaella: Exactly. The EMT that delivered her is wonderful. I have fostered a relationship now with her after the fact and I know a lot of people that work on the crew, so I didn’t mind them getting a little highlight, but it was very interesting to see how they spun it there at the end and how they spliced it together. I know they were trying to work with what they had because I was so nervous about sharing my story that I was kind of all over the place. Preston had to keep anchoring me and be like, “Don’t forget about this part of the story. Don’t forget about this part of the story.” I’m like, “Oh right. I know.” 

    Meagan: Yeah. 

    Mikaella: It’s interesting, yeah. 

    Meagan: It just goes to show just in general with news how things can be spun and taken a little bit more out of context to make it sound different or more desirable in one factor or another. When you have a perfectly safe, beautiful, vaginal birth after Cesarean with a larger-sized baby that was a fast, precipitous labor and then this amazing EMT comes in and they just help. How awesome it was that they were there. There was this nuchal cord and how nervewracking it was for them, but they knew what to do. They were trained and they helped. 

    Instead of just talking like that, it’s a little different so it’s kind of funny to think about that but still so cool that Charlie can go back and see and be like, “Look. I even made it into the news because I came so fast.”

    Mikaella: Exactly, exactly. Yep. Not a lot of big things happen in our tiny town. 

    Meagan: Yeah, yes. So oh my gosh, well thank you so much both Mikaella and Julie for being with us today. 

    Julie: Yeah. 

    Meagan: One of the things I just want to talk about really, really fast is something that you were talking about from your second birth. You say that you had trauma but you know other people have more intense trauma or whatever. 

    Mikaella: Right. 

    Meagan: I don’t want you to discredit the trauma that you did have because, for you as an individual, the trauma that exists exists. It’s okay and sometimes I feel like it’s just natural for us to be like, “Well, I know I didn’t have to have this, this, this, or this happens like that person which is more traumatic.” It seems more traumatic to the listening ear, but at the same time, you personally went through this traumatic situation. It’s okay. You can own that and be like, “This was very traumatic for me and it sucked. I had to work through this.” 

    I want everyone out there to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to accept your trauma and recognize that it is trauma because that’s one of the hardest parts is recognizing that it’s traumatic. I’m proud of you for recognizing that, “Yes. This is traumatic for me.” Even Julie I’m sure would have situations with her own births or her clients’ births where sometimes we walk away as doulas and we’re like, “It doesn’t seem very traumatic to them,” but it was really traumatic for me and I wasn’t even the one going through it. I was an observer and went through it that way, but it wasn’t happening to me. Trauma just exists so differently for everyone. So for everyone listening out there, one recognizing your trauma like Mikaella did is so important. I know for me, I think I told the story of how I was in the driveway stomping around processing trauma that I didn’t even realize that I still had. 

    Trauma is one of the best things that you can do, so I want to just really quickly talk about Julie because Julie is on the podcast today too. She actually did a really cool YouTube video on our YouTube at The VBAC Link and it’s a smokeless– 

    Julie: Smokeless unless you have lots of people doing it. 

    Meagan: Yes, we did it one time with a lot of people and we definitely had smoke. 

    Julie: We set off the fire alarm. That was awesome. 

    Meagan: Yes we did. But yeah, check it out because even the smallest traumas may resonate largely inside and impact the result. So definitely check that out on YouTube at The VBAC Link. It’s smokeless fear release. 

    Julie: Smokeless fire fear release. 

    Can I add something really fast about trauma because you know how I am with trauma? 

    Meagan: Yeah, you’ve learned a lot about trauma. 

    Julie: I went through a big, massive trauma-processing PTSD thing in 2021 and it was super intense. It was a lot of therapy and a lot of sessions. There were group sessions and everything like that. One thing that is so interesting is how everybody perceives their trauma differently. I feel like everybody feels like, “Oh, my trauma is not as bad” or “This person’s trauma is way worse.” 

    Meagan: We compare. We compare. 

    Julie: Yeah, we do. There are people that are like, “I never would have survived the things that you went through in your childhood,” and I was like, “Dude. Are you kidding me? You saw this and this and that and I can’t even imagine going through that.” It’s really interesting because we do. We tend to compare, but one thing that I’ve learned through that process and one thing that I tell people, one thing that I want people to remember and know and one thing that I want to remember myself whenever I am feeling like maybe my stuff is not as bad as somebody else’s is that trauma is trauma. There’s no capital trauma or small trauma. It’s trauma. 

    The thing about trauma is our bodies and minds respond the same no matter what that trauma is. There are physical and emotional symptoms that come when trauma happens and those symptoms are the same no matter if you feel like your trauma is more or less than another person’s. All of the symptoms are the same. We all go through those same things. Our bodies feel it the same. It may manifest differently and things like that, but trauma responses are trauma responses. And processing through them, it doesn’t matter what caused the trauma.

    The trauma is there and it lives there. That is something that we all have the same. You know what I mean? No matter what the trauma was. I think that I see it so much Mikaella. When you said that, I was like, “I want to talk about this.” But yeah. Don’t discount it because it lives inside of you the same as everybody else’s does no matter what the circumstances were. 

    Mikaella: Definitely.

    Meagan: Yes. I love that. I love that and it is pretty crazy to think about all of the women that have experienced birth trauma. I mean, it’s upward towards 1 in 9 of people who are actually diagnosed, and then think about all of the people that don’t seek help. We’ve got a lot of trauma out there. It makes me sad that it happens, but I love that you said that. I love that so much. So thank you. 

    Julie: Yeah. 

    Mikaella: Something I’ve noticed too on the trauma side is that so many women don’t recognize it as trauma because they have been conditioned to think that birth is just a big, scary, traumatic thing that happens. When you have that trauma, that’s just what comes along with birth, but hey, at least you’re still here. 

    My mom has her own traumatic birth history and she would not say it’s not traumatic. She would definitely be the first to tell you, “No. That was trauma.” But my mother-in-law and I have sisters-in-law and they have all had one thing or another, but it’s like, “Well, but my baby and me are here so it’s fine.” 

    Meagan: Exactly. 

    Mikaella: The trauma is still so valid and it took me a long time to realize that and push against what has been perceived as normal for so long to recognize that no, it was traumatic for me. Just because it wasn’t as bad as somebody else’s or just because the baby and I are here and healthy, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t traumatic. Due to that trauma, it took me a long time to even see a doctor when I found out that I was pregnant because I was like, “Nope because that makes it real. That makes this pregnancy real.” 

    So even after having some healing experiences, it was still like my body was postponing calling the doctor and making an appointment. My body was postponing and putting off all of the things that I needed to do to prepare. It had its own kind of trauma response. 

    Meagan: Exactly. That’s one of the reasons why I congratulate you for recognizing that because so often, I didn’t even recognize it until I was in labor and I was like, “Oh my gosh. I have all of these trauma factors that I’m now letting out in labor.” It’s so hard. It’s natural, I feel like, for our minds to downplay it and be like, “Well, but I got this so I shouldn’t be traumatized or I shouldn’t have fear or I shouldn’t have sadness because I do have my baby and I’m okay overall,” but that doesn’t mean we have to write it off. We don’t have to write it off. We don’t have to push it down the tunnel and just forget it ever happened because we have a healthy mom and a healthy baby. 

    There was one birth that I was at here in Murray and the mom ended up having a Cesarean. It was a, I would say, pushed Cesarean more than a needed Cesarean. She didn’t want it and she was crying. Lots of things were happening and I ended up going into the OR on this. It was a traumatic Cesarean. It really was. And then after, the doctor said to me, he pulled me aside and he goes, “Well, isn’t she just happy now that she has her baby? Can’t she just let all of that stuff go?” Because I stepped out to give them a moment because they were really upset. I just wanted to let them be together. It was clear to me that they just wanted a moment just the two of them and their baby. 

    I said, “I don’t think it works that way.” He goes, “Well, that’s how it should work.” 

    Julie: Wow. 

    Meagan: I will never, ever forget that. It was like, “You totally just pushed her trauma aside. You did your job. You got the baby here, but now what happened leading up to that, what happened during it, and what’s happening after shouldn’t matter because she has her baby here.”

    Julie: Well, that’s totally gaslighting. I mean, come on. 

    Meagan: It was bad. He didn’t say that to her. I hope that he never did, not that I know of it, but he said that to me. I was like, “You totally just discredited everything that she just experienced.” I was very frustrated. 

    Julie: I hate the system. 

    Meagan: You know, it’s hard.

    Julie: I really do. 

    Meagan: It’s hard because I’m sure overall in his head, he just doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand. He didn’t experience that. 

    Julie: Yep. 

    Meagan: But that doesn’t mean she should just be okay. So if you’re one of those moms, and I’m going to tell you that there are lots of us out there that are like, “Okay, well it’s okay because it’s fine. I’m fine. I’ll heal. My baby’s here fine and safe.” We all should be glad and happy about that, but it’s okay to accept that. It’s okay to say, “You know, that was really hard. I didn’t like that” or “That was triggering for me.” Like Julie said, the mind and the body and everything, we’ve got to work through it and we’ve got to accept it and it’s really hard too. 

    Mikaella: I want to add even if it’s not necessarily traumatic, you’re also still allowed to mourn a birth experience that you didn’t get to have. Even if there was zero trauma involved, if you had something in your mind that you were working towards and didn’t get it, that’s still so valid. I know with Boston, my C-section, at the end I feel like it was necessary. I didn’t feel pushed toward it or anything. I don’t know that it would have been necessary had I gone without all of the interventions leading up to the C-section. At that point, the C-section was necessary but I definitely mourned the experience of not having a second vaginal birth. 

    I feel like a lot of women feel that way because it’s like, “Well, your baby is here and you’re fine. Your birth wasn’t even traumatic, so what’s the matter?” But you’re more than allowed to mourn a birth experience that you didn’t get to have. 

    Meagan: Right. Julie and I have talked about that all of these years on the podcast. It’s okay to be happy for your baby and everything but also mourn. You don’t have to only be happy or only be mourning or grieving the experience. They can go together. You can grieve the experience that you didn’t receive while also being happy for your newborn baby. 

    Mikaella: Exactly. 

    Julie: Yep. It’s complicated. It feels complicated, but it’s not morally right or morally wrong to mourn the loss of a birth experience you wanted while being incredibly excited about your new baby. It’s not. It’s not morally right or morally wrong. It just is. It’s okay to feel these things. It’s okay to sit with them and it’s okay for it to feel complicated. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. Okay, ladies well thank you so much again for being here with us today. I do. I love your story. Honestly, I long for that birth. We’re done having kids. We definitely are not having anymore, but I kind of long for it. Those fast, precipitous births can be really, really crazy and very intense because your body is doing a lot but it kind of sounds really fun too. 

    Mikaella: I honestly enjoyed it. Out of all three, that was my most enjoyable birth and the easiest recovery afterward. I got to experience spontaneous pushing or the pushing reflex. The ejection reflex was so incredible because, with my other two, I pushed for hours and hours. It started as, “Let’s do practice pushing,” and then it was just pushing and pushing. It was exhausting. So getting to feel the ejection reflex was honestly awesome. Painful, but it was awesome. Getting to just check all of those things off of my list and knowing that I can do it and taking charge of my own birth there at the end was really incredible. 

    Meagan: I love it. Well, thank you. On that note, we will just leave on the positive. It was incredible, that positive note. Thank you again, both of you. 

    Mikaella: Thank you. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    45m | Feb 22, 2023
  • Episode 222 Necey's VBAC + RCS + VBA3C

    Our friend Necey joins us with her inspiring five birth stories today! Necey had a scheduled Cesarean for her first birth, a redemptive VBAC for her third, two scheduled C-sections after that, and a VBAC after three Cesareans for her fifth baby. 

    She shares how her VBA3C was a spiritual journey that gave her the strength to advocate among skeptics and have faith in herself to follow the path she knew she needed to take. We are so in awe of Necey’s powerful stories!

    Additional Links

    Necey's Family YouTube Channel

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Full Transcript

    Meagan: Hello, you guys. It’s February and we have more beautiful stories coming your way. Today we have our friend Necey. Her name is Donice but she goes by Necey. She has a whole bunch of stories. She is unique because she is a VBAC and then a VBAC after two Cesareans. She has five cute kiddos and she had an unexpected Cesarean like a lot of us do, then a VBAC, and then two Cesareans, and then a VBAC. I think it’s cool that you have a VBAC after multiple Cesareans and then you have a VBAC. I’m so excited for her to share her stories today, all five of them. So amazing. 

    Review of the Week

    But of course, we have a review of the week. I’m going to share it from koggli. Sorry, I always butcher the names. The subject is “The Reason I Got My VBAC.” It says, “I cannot thank these ladies enough for the impact they had on me and my second birth. My first was a 24-hour labor with an emergency C-section. After delivering my precious son, I was sure I never wanted to go through a C-section again. Through their knowledge and resources, I was able to feel much more prepared for my second birth. Because of these ladies and all of the ones who have also shared all of their testimonies, I had a successful VBAC in October 2020 with a little girl.” She had a little boy and then she had a little girl. 

    “Now I am preparing for my second VBAC with another little girl due October 2022” which means at this time of recording, she just had her baby a couple of months ago. So koggli, if you are listening, please write us. Let us know how it went. It says, “Because of them, I became so passionate for VBACs and the beautiful redemption they can bring. Thank you, ladies.” 

    Well, thank you koggli. So excited for you. Congrats on your VBAC. I can’t wait, I hope, to hear about your second VBAC. So as usual, we love reviews from you guys. They are so amazing. They warm my heart. You can leave them in all sorts of different ways. You can do it on Apple Podcasts, Google, Instagram, and Facebook or just email us at info@thevbaclink.com. Whatever it may be, we would love to know what you think about the podcast. 

    Necey’s Stories 

    Meagan: Okay. I can’t wait. Let’s dive into your stories. Five stories. Obviously, everyone starts with a C-section, so let’s dive into that. 

    Necey: Okay. First, I want to say thank you for allowing me to be able to come on your podcast and share my story with you and your listeners. Okay, so first we’re going to talk about Joshua. He’s my firstborn. When I got pregnant with him, it was my first one. I didn’t know anything about anything. 

    Meagan: Right? You just don’t know what you don’t know. You know you’re going to have a baby. That’s what that pregnancy test confirms, right?

    Necey: Yes, yes. I just didn’t take good care of myself. I was eating. I was just happy to be pregnant so I took it as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I gained a lot of weight rapidly. Around 7 months, I ended up getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes. That made me have to go to the doctor more often, sometimes twice a week, and get a lot of non-stress tests. I didn’t know what I was doing or what the tests were for. 

    So then at around 37 weeks, I went in and got a non-stress test done. I didn’t pass it. They said that he wasn’t moving the way they wanted him to move and therefore, they took me to get an ultrasound to make sure that he was still doing okay. The measured fluid and everything. The nurse ended up calling the doctor. The doctor said to have me go home and have me come back in the morning, and if it’s the same then we’ll go from there. 

    So fast forward, my husband and I come back the next day. Nothing changed, so they said that they were going to have to keep me at the hospital I was at because it wasn’t the original one I was supposed to be at. They said it was because it had a children’s hospital inside. 

    Meagan: A NICU, uh-huh. 

    Necey: Yes. They wanted to make sure that if there were any complications with him that we would have the option. They ended up taking me up to labor and delivery. I thought I was going to get induced, but once I got up there, and when the doctor came, my family was there and she just was like, “We’re going to do a C-section.” I was like, “Okay.” 

    Meagan: Oh!

    Necey: Yeah. I was just like, “Okay.” We didn’t know. 

    Meagan: Right. 

    Necey: I heard the nurse ask her, “You’re not going to induce her? You’re just going to give her a C-section?” The doctor was like, “Yeah. Just going to give her a C-section.” I didn’t know. I was just like, “Okay.” So I did the C-section and everything went good, no complications. As she was pulling him out, she said, “Oh, that’s what happened. The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck.” I now know that just because the cord is wrapped around the neck doesn’t mean that you cannot deliver your baby vaginally. 

    Meagan: Correct, yeah. It actually happens all of the time. Babies come out with nuchal cords all of the time. 

    Necey: Yeah. So you know, I was just like, “Okay.” I was just happy that my baby was born. He was born 6 pounds, 11 ounces I believe via C-section. Everything went good. I was just happy to be a first-time mom. 

    So for my second pregnancy/baby, I had another son, Reggie the Third. He was actually a successful VBAC. The pregnancy was fine. No complications and no gestational diabetes which I was happy about that. Everything was fine. I actually went into early labor with him on Thanksgiving Day.

    Meagan: Oh, a turkey baby. 

    Necey: Yes. I guess it was all of the food. And then so I actually was going some Black Friday shopping because I never had labor before. My husband and I were at the store and I kept going back and forth to the bathroom. I was just telling him, “I don’t know. It keeps feeling like I have to go to the bathroom but nothing is happening. It’s kind of weird.” He was just like, “Okay.” So one time when I was going back to him, I ended up having a contraction that stopped me in my tracks. I was like, “Wait a minute. Is this possible? Oh, a contraction.” So I was like, “Okay. Oh, Lord. Just let me make it through this so I can get back to him because I don’t know what’s going on.” 

    I made it back to him and I was like, “I think we need to go home because I feel like I may be having contractions.” He was just like, “Okay.” So I got home, called the exchange line, and told them what was going on. They wanted me to go on and get checked out. I did and I went about midnight. They let me go at about 8:00 in the morning and said I was contracting. I just didn’t have any change. 

    I went home and relaxed. At around 6:00, so that was Thursday, then Friday around 6:00, I started to have contractions. I was like, “Wait a minute. It’s time now.” So I had my sister and my sister-in-law, so family over. I ended up on all fours making this moaning sound. My sister is on the phone calling my doctor. My sister-in-law is massaging my back and she was like, “I’m almost sure you’re in labor.” 

    So they said to go back and I went back. They checked me and I was about 4-5 centimeters dilated. So they said, “Yeah, you’re in labor.” Active labor is what they called it. I immediately asked for an epidural. I didn’t even try to labor. I was like, “Give it to me. I want it now.” 

    Meagan: Yeah, that’s okay. 

    Necey: Although I had the epidural, for some reason, I still felt my son. He felt like he was coming out of me. Some hours had passed, maybe about 8 or 9 hours or so, but before that, the nurse ended up checking me and she was like, “You’re complete. I just have to wait until the doctor comes.” She called the doctor and I was like, “I think I feel him.” She was like, “Oh, I just checked you. You’re good. You’re complete. You’ve got time,” is what she said. She had me do some practice pushes and as they had my legs open, my mom and my mother-in-law were like, “Oh, I think you need to close your legs.” 

    Meagan: I thought I had time.

    Necey: Right? I was like, “Okay, why? He’s right there, isn’t he?” She was like, “Yeah.” So then the doctor ended up coming. Actually, I had a resident. He ended up coming in and the doctor soon followed. I didn’t even get to push. I pushed a time and a half. I didn’t even get to push hard or anything. He just came right out. I think my body had already done it for me, just unaware that that’s what it was doing. He was born 6 pounds, 14 ounces. 

    Meagan: Okay. 

    Necey: Yes, so I’m in the 6-pound range. So yeah. 

    Then for my third baby, Miss Addison, my first baby girl, the same thing. No gestational diabetes. The pregnancy was actually good. We were on track for another VBAC, but around 40 weeks, I went in for my check-up and the doctor was just like, “I wonder why you haven’t gone into labor.” I was actually thinking the same thing. So she said to follow her to the ultrasound room. I did and she did a quick check to examine and she was like, “Oh, that’s what’s going on. She’s transverse inside of you.”

    Meagan: Sideways. 

    Necey: Yeah. I had no clue what that meant. I was just like, “Okay, transverse.” I’ve heard of breech or head-down. She told me to come back the next day and do an EVC.

    Meagan: ECV. 

    Necey: ECV, I’m sorry. 

    Meagan: It’s a version where they are trying to manually, from the outside, rotate the baby. 

    Necey: Yes. She said if that was successful, then good. If not, we would have to do another C-section. So of course, it wasn’t successful and I didn’t know anything about Spinning Babies or anything like that because I probably would have tried some of those things, but yes. We ended up going for a C-section, got prepped, and for some reason, when they got me to the operating room, I became very panicked. I started shouting and asking them to get me up. I didn’t want to do it. The whole team lifted me up and the doctor talked to me. She calmed me down. We went on with the C-section. Everything went good. She was actually 8 pounds even. 

    Meagan: A big jump, about a pound heavier than your other babies. 

    Necey: Yes, so I don’t know how or why, but that’s what it was. 

    So for my next pregnancy/birth, it was my daughter Madeline. Her pregnancy was good too with no complications and no gestational diabetes again. However, I was still with the same provider, so since I had two Cesareans, she said she wasn’t comfortable with doing a vaginal because I actually unknowingly started to advocate for myself with her. I just asked. I asked and asked. She always told me no, so I was just like, “Okay.” I didn’t think I had another choice, but I did try to compromise with her. 

    I was like, “If I go into labor before the scheduled date, can I just have her vaginally or try it out?” She was like, “I guess. I really don’t want to do it, but maybe so.” I didn’t go into labor though. So I went to the scheduled Cesarean and I think for my last birth, I had trauma so I was just scared. I started to panic again. This time, it was before we got into the operating room. It was right after they gave me the spinal tap. It was so bad. It was really bad. I was a little embarrassed, but they ended up saying that they had to give me some medicine. They ended up giving me Xanax. I was scared because they said it was not good for the baby. It messes with the baby’s heart. They were like, “We really don’t have another option because we really need you calm.” So I just agreed. 

    But after I got that, I didn’t even know what it was, but I was really relaxed. I didn’t have a care in the world. We did the C-section and Madeline was born. She was 6 pounds, 12 ounces. 

    Meagan: Okay. 

    Necey: I know. So I don’t know. But yeah. It was good and no complications, just the panic attack. Oh, and you know what? Yes. My husband did say that she didn’t respond. I didn’t know because I was out of it. And so he said that he got scared because she didn’t respond for a while. I’m just assuming it was because of the medicine, but she was fine. I just thank God that she was okay. 

    I was very depressed after that. I think it was a trauma for me, so I didn’t want to have any more babies. I didn’t want to go through the delivery process or any of that. I ended up getting pregnant again. 

    Meagan: Oops, someone else had a plan for you. 

    Necey: Yep. So with this pregnancy and birth, I knew deep inside that I didn’t want to do it, but I was okay with having another C-section. I wasn’t looking to be pregnant. It was actually at the end of the COVID lockdown, so I have all of these friends and I see people having these babies and I tell my husband, “We missed the wave. We did good.” And then nope, we got caught right up in the wave. 

    So yeah. Her story is a journey for me. I didn’t realize I had trauma with the rest of the other two births before her. One day while I was minding my business and having some alone time, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me that I was pregnant, that I was going to have my baby vaginally, that I needed to call my sister to have her bring me some pregnancy tests, and that this is going to be a faith entrenched journey between me and God. 

    Meagan: That just gave me the chills. 

    Necey: I’m telling you, I was scared. I thought I was tripping. I said, “No, I am not,” but I decided to be obedient, so I called my sister. She came over with three pregnancy tests and sure enough, every single one of them was positive. 

    Meagan: Pregnant!

    Necey: My husband and I were like, “How did this happen?” We thought we were doing good, but when God has other plans for us, His plan always trumps what we want to do. I remember my friend telling me that she ended up not going to doctors anymore. She ended up doing midwives. She told me that they had done research that the midwives are saying that there is more research out saying that it’s possible for people to have vaginal births after multiple Cesareans. 

    Meagan: At this point, you’ve had three technically, right? You’ve had a vaginal birth in between, but you’ve had three. 

    Necey: Yes. I had three. I called the midwifery info she gave to me. They said no. They said maybe if it would have been one that they would be able to do it, but they gave me the information for somebody else. I called them. They said no. After that, it was just a rabbit hole with a lot of no’s, so I decided to call my previous doctor although I had that trauma. I just didn’t really feel as comfortable as I did once with her. It was just familiar to me. 

    Meagan: Some comfort there and familiarity.

    Necey: Yes. I ended up calling her and went to my appointment, but that was the last appointment I went to her because she did a couple of things that I feel like as a provider, you just shouldn’t do even as a person. It’s like she was passively trying to get me to get a tubal done. 

    Meagan: Oh. 

    Necey: Yes. She was like, “I need to know if you want to get a tubal or not because I need to schedule your C-section at a different hospital so we can do it all at the same time.” I was like, “Okay.” I didn’t say anything to her. I didn’t plan on getting one, but even if I did or didn’t, I didn’t say anything. I actually wanted to talk to her about having my baby vaginally. 

    Meagan: Right, yeah. 

    Necey: That was a red flag and I just said, “Okay.” Then the second thing was that she asked me about the routine testing that most doctors do which is fine. I didn’t have a problem with it. It’s just that she started to say because I told her that I didn’t know. I would tell her at the next visit. She was just like, “Well, the sooner the better in case your baby has any disabilities and you want to terminate your pregnancy.”

    Meagan: Oh, whoa. 

    Necey: Yes. I was shocked because I couldn’t believe she had said that to me. But for me, if that’s what God wanted to bless me with a baby with disabilities, I’m okay with that because I’m going to do what I need to do. I just thought that was kind of out of line that she would do that. It hurt my feelings a little bit, but I was like, “Okay. This is the only choice I have.” The third thing was after we were wrapping up and she was leaving out, she said in a low tone but I could hear her clearly, she was like, “Well, thanks for keeping us in business.” 

    I was like, “Okay. Have a good day.” 

    Meagan: Maybe a little unprofessional. 

    Necey: Yeah. But I had been with her since my second birth and my second pregnancy, so that was just new for me. I decided I wasn’t going to go back to her. That was in January. I found out I was pregnant in November, so from the beginning of January to the end of February, I didn’t have a doctor. I’m calling. I actually wrote a letter to one of the head obstetricians in my area of a big institution where I’m from. She actually called me back. That phone call had me in tears because he basically was laughing at me literally and telling me that it is a joke. No institution here would ever–

    Meagan: He went out of his way to call you back to tell you that you are a joke. 

    Necey: Yes, that, “No institution in our area or anywhere is going to allow TOLAC after three Cesareans.” I was just like, “Okay, God. Why would you tell me this? Why would you have me go down this road if it’s not true? This is impossible. Nobody is going to let me do this.” After I went on my rant, I was just like, “Whatever.” I just kept going. I kept on and ended up finding a doctor who ended up giving me a referral to a high-risk clinic here. 

    But in between that time, I ended up hiring a doula. I suggest anybody that’s pregnant, get a doula if you can. I ended up joining some Facebook groups and following people on Instagram. It’s where I found you guys, The VBAC Link Community and it was so encouraging for me just to know that I wasn’t alone. There are people out there who are going through the same things. 

    I ended up going to the high-risk clinic and they told me that they were going to accept me as a patient. Of course, they told me all of the cons of TOLACing after three Cesareans. They said that they suggested that I get a repeat C-section. I told them that I didn’t want to do it, but this was the first time that I understood that even if I didn’t want to do it and someone forced me to it, they said that it was assault. I said, “Is it?” They were like, “Yeah. If you don’t consent to it, we can’t do that.” I was like, “Oh. Okay.”

    But yeah, so to her birth. My water ended up breaking. I did want to say that they told me they would absolutely not induce me. No Pitocin. I had done a little research, so I knew that. They said that Pitocin can increase uterine rupture rates or the percentage of it, so I wanted to stay away from it. They had told me that. 

    That Wednesday, fast forward to my labor and birth with her, my water broke at 1:00 AM on Wednesday. I never had experienced that before, so I’m like, “I think that’s what it is,” because it kept coming out in gushes. I had a doctor’s appointment Thursday morning, so I tried to do some walking to try to get things moving because I wasn’t contracting. I didn’t feel anything. 

    I went to the doctor Thursday morning and told them what had happened. Of course, they wanted me to go to triage and get checked out to get the test done to make sure that it was actually my water. We went home. We didn’t go back right away. We waited a long time. We went back at 11:00 at night, got the test done, and it was my water. 

    I had to be admitted and I was scared, but I knew the word that I had so I held on to it. We got upstairs and the first resident that came in was really forceful and was like, “You have to sign this paper saying that you are declining the C-section.” We were like, “Okay. Can you give us a second?” 

    The nurse that we had was really, really good, the first nurse. Both nurses. She talked to me. She consoled me. She explained things further than what the resident was saying. My husband and I ended up signing the paper, but I still had no change. My water was ruptured. 

    Meagan: Were you contracting? Okay, yeah. Just ruptured, but nothing happening yet. 

    Necey: Yes ma’am. They ended up telling me that I had to get induced. 

    Meagan: You’re like, “But they said they wouldn’t.” 

    Necey: Yes. So my husband and I were scared. I was like, “I don’t know about that. I thought you guys said I wasn’t going to be able to do that.” They were like, “Basically, your options are to get Pitocin or have a repeat C-section.” The nurse was really nice. We asked her if we could take a second to just pray and talk among ourselves. She was like, “Okay,” but she stayed there. She didn’t leave. 

    Meagan: Amongst ourselves like him and I and a doula. 

    Necey: Yes. Yes. So we looked at each other and that’s what we kind of said. She was like, “Oh, well I wanted to pray with you guys.” Yeah. It was so shocking. I wasn’t expecting it. We said, “Okay.” After she prayed, the atmosphere just changed. I was like, “You know what?” I’m taking this hospital gown off. I brought my own gown. I’m putting that on. I had the affirmation vision board that I had made. I pulled that out. I turned off the lights. We brought LED light candles and lit the room up and put on our worship music and just went in. I’m like, “You did something there,” talking to the nurse. 

    They started me on Pitocin. I told them I wanted to start at 0.5. They said they don’t usually do that. They usually start around 2. I told them I was scared and that I would rather start off low and work my way up. They ended up saying, “Okay.”

    Meagan: Good for you. 

    Necey: So then the doula ended up getting there. This was around 3:00 PM. She was there and I started contracting. They put in an internal fetal monitor, I think is what it’s called. 

    Meagan: An FSC or an IUPC. A lot of times with VBAC or TOLAC, they put this IUPC monitor in to tell them exactly the strength of the contractions so they can manipulate the Pitocin. The FSC is the little probe monitor that goes on the baby’s head to tell them exactly what the heart rate is. 

    Necey: Yeah, they put the one– 

    Meagan: IUPC, intrauterine pressure catheter is what it’s called. 

    Necey: Okay, you got it. But yeah, so they did that. Between 3:00 and I would say around 10:00ish, I was still just at a 3. The contractions were getting stronger and they didn’t want to check me often because my waters were broken. They didn’t want to introduce infection. I was, is it B strep positive? 

    Meagan: Group B strep, GBS? 

    Necey: Yes, yes. I was positive for that. 

    Meagan: So they probably wanted to do antibiotics. 

    Necey: Yes, so all of that is going on and then the shift changed and the other nurse came in. She was just like, “Okay. I just took these classes. I want to put you in all of these positions.” She and my doula had me, I don’t know what the position was but they had me laying on the bed and I had to arch my back and they had the birthing ball in between my legs. 

    Meagan: That’s Walcher’s. Oh, arch your back laying on your side?

    Necey: Yes, that’s exactly what it is. 

    Meagan: Oh, okay okay. Like a Sims position, like a side-lying position? 

    Necey: I was calling it swimming. 

    Meagan: Sims, yeah. Exaggerated probably. Or there’s the flying cowgirl where you are really, really arched. 

    Necey: I think I may have done that one too. They were on it. I had no clue. I was just doing what they told me to do. All I knew was that I was feeling contractions. I started going back and forth to the bathroom. I ended up throwing up. It was unmedicated for me too. We didn’t find out the gender. It was a surprise for us. We thought that the journey was more important than that at that point. 

    At about 10:45ish, the nurse and my doula were like, “I really believe that you are in transition,” because I was making these weird noises. 

    Meagan: Isn’t it funny how our body just intuitively makes weird noises but at the same time, we’re like, “Oh wait. That’s a good noise.” 

    Necey: My doula said, after it was over, she looked at me and she was like, “I have never in my life heard anything like that.” We all laughed about it at that point, but yeah. For some reason, the resident doctor that was there would not let the nurse check me. I don’t know why, but the nurse kept asking and was like, “I really just think she’s ready.” I don’t know. It was just taking the doctor a really long time, but she finally got there. She comes and she was ready to check me. I was like, “Wait. You have to wait. Here comes a contraction.” The contraction comes and I’m like, “Okay. It’s over. Check me now. Let’s move fast.” She did. I was complete. 

    They were like, “Okay. Get ready. We’re going to do a couple of practice pushes and get things going.” They were like, “Whatever position you want.” I ended up on the bed in the weirdest sideways– it was just really weird. They were like, “Okay, if that’s what you want to do.” I’m like, “Okay, I guess.” 

    Meagan: That’s what my body is doing, yeah. 

    Necey: The room quickly filled up with people. I pushed two times and I ended up yelling out, “It burns,” because it burned. 

    Meagan: Uh-huh, the ring of fire. 

    Necey: Yes, that’s what they said. They chuckled and they were like, “Yeah, that’s the ring of fire. That’s supposed to happen.” My husband was all, “I see the head.” I’m like, “Oh, it’s happening!” Then I pushed again and I mean, she popped out. We didn’t get it on camera. We videoed the whole thing, but my husband, I guess, got so excited. He snatched the camera from the doula and accidentally cut it off, so we missed her actually coming out. 

    Meagan: Darn it!

    Necey: I know. I couldn’t be mad though. He was excited. She was born. Hannah Faith, 6 pounds, 5 ounces. She came out. He was screaming, “You did it. God did it, honey.” I’m like, “Yeah, God did it.” Everybody in there was in awe. The doctor– I even asked. I said, “Has anybody in here ever witnessed a vaginal birth after three Cesareans?” and everybody said no. This was amazing. 

    And so she was born. I’m happy she was born. I didn’t realize just how much I needed to have a healing birth, this faith journey with God and me, and just the information I learned about giving birth. It only took five, but–

    Meagan: But hey, you learned and grew with each one. 

    Necey: Yes ma’am. Yeah. So that’s it. My babies. But that’s why her name is Hannah Faith. 

    Meagan: That’s so beautiful. 

    Necey: Thank you. It was our journey. We didn’t even have a name picked out either. 

    Meagan: It just came. Everything fit just perfectly. 

    Necey: Yes. 

    Meagan: Yes. And do you know what? Something that you did for all of those providers that were there, is you proved to them, and not that you were there to prove anything, but you proved to them and showed them that it’s possible because I guarantee before that, they were probably all a little doubtful and a little skeptical, right? 

    But there it goes. It happens. The hardest thing with VBAC after– so from VBAC after two Cesareans, ACOG is like, “Okay. Vaginal birth after two Cesareans is reasonable. We feel like it’s okay. We know that the rupture rate is anywhere between .2-1.5% depending on the study.” But then VBAC after three Cesareans, there’s not a lot out there and it’s because we’re not doing them and providers are cutting people off saying, “Nope. You had those two. You’re done.” But then we’ve had story after story after story of VBAC after three Cesareans where they’re beautiful and they pan out. 

    Look, you had Pitocin. Do you know what your Pitocin got to?

    Necey: 5. 

    Meagan: A 5. See? You had Pitocin and you had an IUPC. I want to talk a little bit about that because sometimes, it’s a less-ideal thing because it’s an intervention, right? But sometimes, a provider may agree to allow a VBAC after multiple Cesareans. If you’re feeling stuck and there’s no one in your area and it’s a rule, you could talk to them and say, “Let’s have this. Let’s watch what my contractions are doing. I’m willing to have this intervention for this birth. I never want to say to give in to anything, but it’s just an option because it sometimes brings comfort to those providers and I guarantee that that’s what it did. 

    In the beginning, they were like, “No, you can’t have Pit,” and then it was like they totally forgot that they said that. So they were saying one thing and doing another. That happens a lot of the time, so you are just living proof, right? VBAC after three Cesareans with an induction. I mean, yes you went into spontaneous labor. Your membranes ruptured spontaneously, but then labor didn’t start. It probably would have in time, but they jump-started it. They jump-started it with Pit, so it’s possible. It is possible. 

    There are not enough studies out there because it’s not happening. 

    Necey: It’s not. That’s actually a goal of mine to just advocate and give a voice to the problem. Maybe the issue is the fact that we are being denied and the proper research isn’t given because during my research, YouTube, The VBAC Link Community, and others, I saw multiple women having vaginal births after two, three, and I even saw four. If we could get across the board and get a good average and a good study was done, then maybe we can move forward. 

    Meagan: Right, it’s just getting the person and getting the connections to start back. It’s going to start with people just like us, just regular old humans. It’s going to start with us facilitating this. We have our Dr. Natalie Elphinstone, I think is how she says it, she is doing maternal assisted Cesareans which is something also very foreign and not heard of. Everyone is like, “No, that’s not possible,” and here it is and it’s happening. As each of us starts implementing things, maybe it takes writing these providers like you did. It is unfortunate that they called just to laugh at you and say, “Yeah, right.” Maybe write back and say, “I just wanted to let you know that this happened.” 

    Necey: That’s what my doula said to do. I haven’t done it yet. I actually had forgotten and I think I should too. 

    Meagan: Yes. It’s just that every little thing. I wanted to write a note to my doctor too because he was like, “Good luck. No one’s going to want you out there.” I remember yelling. I’m holding my baby and should be not thinking about my doctor, but that’s exactly where my mind went. I was like, “Screw you. Look at what I just did. This happened. You told me this wouldn’t happen. You told me I would never get a baby out of my pelvis because it was so small.” 

    Yeah. It just goes to show that one, we are capable of amazing things. Our bodies are incredible. God is good and it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not like you’re shoving his face in it and saying, “Oh, look at this,” but it’s like, “Hey. I want you to know that this happened. I even had Pitocin.” And then he might look at it and scoff and say, “Whatever,” or he might be like, “Hmm. All right. Maybe I shouldn’t doubt.”

    Necey: That’s the biggest thing. It is possible. It just goes to show that we are all human, even doctors. It’s not to discredit them at all, but nobody knows everything and we should work together as a birthing team and not as an enforcer and just the patient. This should be a collective thing. I think a lot more can get done if it goes that route. 

    Having a doula is very important during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. My doula came a week later to do the postpartum visit and she asked me how I was feeling. I was fine and she was just like, “Well, how are your feet?” I was like, “Well, they seem like they are a little bit swollen.” She was like, “I think you should check your blood pressure because there is such a thing as postpartum hypertension.” I said, “Okay.” I checked it and my blood pressure was really, really high, almost stroke level high. 

    She said, “You need to go to the emergency room now.” I’m just thankful that we had the doula because I probably would have just gone on. I was feeling fine. I ended up going. I had to stay. They had to put me on magnesium and some other things for a couple of days. They sent me home with some medicine, but everything ended up fine after that, but I just want people to be aware that postpartum is care too and there are those signs. 

    Meagan: Yes. So often, postpartum is just forgotten about. It’s hard because we are so focused on birth and pregnancy and all of these things, but then we forget about postpartum. If something is not seeming totally right, and it’s normal to have– especially if you’ve had a lot of fluids or medicines or anything like that, it’s normal to be swollen, but if you’re getting more swollen or you weren’t swollen and now all of a sudden you’re swollen, that’s definitely a sign of postpartum hypertension. It’s definitely something to call and discuss. It never hurts to just call. Even if it’s nothing, it never hurts to call and just check out. 

    Necey: Yes, yes. 

    Meagan: Thank you so much for sharing all of your stories and spending time with us. 

    Necey: No problem. Thank you again for having me. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. 


    Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-vbac-link/donations

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    42m | Feb 15, 2023
  • Episode 221 Our VBAC Link Doula Sarah's Beautiful VBAC Story

    “If you want to have a VBAC, trying is so empowering. If it’s on your heart, you have to go for it because it’s possible.”

    We have had her on the pod as a fabulous cohost a few times, but now we get to hear Sarah’s own VBAC story today! After a PROM and stalled long labor, Sarah was told her pelvis was too small. She was labeled as a “failure to progress” and “once a Cesarean, always a Cesarean”.  

    Sarah put in the work to change the way she let outside opinions influence her choices. She didn’t let self-doubt control her thoughts and surrounded herself with positivity. Sarah went all in for her VBAC and everything worked out beautifully!

    Additional Links

    Entering Motherhood Podcast

    Sarah’s Instagram

    How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

    Full Transcript under Episode Details

    Full Transcript

    Meagan: Hello, this is Meagan with The VBAC Link and we have another VBAC story coming for you. Today is actually kind of a fun episode because we have one of our own VBAC doulas. She’s actually been a cohost on a couple of episodes, so this is really fun to have her be on the other side of things instead of being a cohost, now sharing her story. I am so excited, Sarah, for you to be with us today. 

    She is a mom of two, a wife, and a mechanical engineer. Since entering into motherhood herself, she has become certified in postpartum nutrition and is a birth and postpartum doula which I think is amazing. Postpartum nutrition is such a big factor. We are going to hopefully have a special guest on here sometime maybe in the spring and she’s going to talk about that and how nutrition can play a huge factor in our recovery and how our incisions, like our C-section scars, heal and how it can impact VBAC. It’s amazing, so I love that you are certified in postpartum nutrition. If you have anything that you would like to share at the end of this, please be my guest and definitely share anything. I am so excited for you to be here today. 

    Review of the Week

    Meagan: I’m going to read a review and then we are going to jump into your amazing story. 

    Sarah: Sounds good. 

    Meagan: Perfect. This is a more recent, August 2022 and it’s from Connor Alyse Hoelle. Sorry, I’m really bad at names obviously. I’m probably butchering it. But the review says, “I was planning on waiting until I give birth to leave a review, but I love this podcast so much. I have to do it now. Julie and Meagan have created such a fantastic and empowering resource in The VBAC Link podcast. When I first got pregnant, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a VBAC and had a lot of self-doubts. Now, I’m just a few weeks from my due date” so I bet she’s had her baby because right now it’s the end of 2022 “ and thanks to this podcast, I’m genuinely so excited to go into labor. I’m been binging every episode and can’t believe how much it has changed my perspective and increased my confidence in my body and my baby. I promise you’ll be hearing an update from me afterward.”

    So Alyse, we would love to hear the update and see how things went and see how you’re feeling about your birth. I love that she has been with us and binging. It warms my heart so much. So if you also have a review, please never hesitate to drop us one. You can leave it on Apple Podcasts. I think Google Play maybe, actually, I don’t have Google Play so don’t quote me on that but if you can’t do it on Google Play, you can to go Google. Just search “The VBAC Link” and leave a review there or you can send us a message on Instagram. You know all of the things. I say it every time, but we love your reviews, so please if you wouldn’t mind, leave us one. 

    Sarah’s Stories

    Meagan: Okay, Sarah. Are you excited? I’m excited. 

    Sarah: I am, yeah. I am just super thankful to be here. Like you said, I was able to be a cohost on some other episodes but to be able to share my story is just something that’s near and dear to my heart. I love sharing it, so I’m happy to be here. 

    Meagan: Well, thank you. Share away. Anything that you would like listeners to hear. 

    Sarah: Well obviously, every VBAC story begins with a Cesarean. Like many other episodes, I am just going to briefly go over what went on with my Cesarean. With my first, she was born in August of 2019 and it was an unplanned Cesarean. I was a first-time mom doing all of the things, quote-on-quote, all of the things I felt like I was supposed to do. I was reading books and talking to other moms. I took a birth course. I had a baby shower. I was looking at all of the cute baby things. I went to all of my prenatal appointments and was checking all of the boxes. 

    I was even seeing a chiropractor. I had a doula. I was just doing all of the things that I felt I needed to do to prepare. I was convinced that I was going to have a completely normal, unmedicated birth. I was just going to walk into the hospital, pop out my baby, and just start this new life of a family of three and being a mom. Everything was just going to work out. 

    Obviously, I’m here because that did not go according to plan like most of our Cesarean experiences. Actually, very similar to your story, my water broke first. 

    Meagan: Mmm, yeah. 

    Sarah: I was just shy of 39 weeks and I got up to pee and sure enough, there was a little bit of a pop and trickle down my leg. I was like, “Man, I peed myself.” I was fully convinced that this was just pee and I was super embarrassed. I went to the bathroom and just continued on. Sure enough, every time I went to stand up, I just kept on peeing a little. 

    Meagan: Like how much pee do I have?

    Sarah: I was like, “This is weird.” I’ve never been pregnant before. I’m so far along, maybe this is normal. There I am. Of course, we all have our phones when we’re on the toilet. I’m sitting there Googling, “What happens when your water breaks?” or “What is it like when your water breaks?” All of these scenarios are running through my head because everything leading up to that point was basically, “Oh, your water’s never going to break. It’s not going to be until later on in your labor.” Everything like that, and sure enough, soon after, I believe it was my mucus plug that came out. 

    It’s honestly so hard to try and look back on the experience knowing what I know now and say, “What actually happened?” There’s no way of being able to go back and actually relive it through the lens that you have now, so it’s really crazy to go back and everything, but we were there in the moment and just convinced, “Okay. Water broke. What do we do?” 

    Sure enough, it was just like, “Well, I guess we go to the hospital.” 

    Meagan: That’s what I was told. It was like, “If your water breaks, you come straight in.” So I was like, “Okay, cool.” So my water broke and what did I do? We got ready and we went in. 

    Sarah: Yeah. So here I am. I remember my husband took a picture of me standing outside of the hospital. I was happy like, “Okay, we’re going to go have the baby now. The water broke. This is great.” I was just convinced that this was all cool. Like, “All right. Baby’s coming. My water broke. I must be doing something right.”

    I got there. They checked me. I wasn’t even a centimeter dilated. They were just like, “Okay. We’ll see what happens, but you’re staying here.” That, I think, really threw me in for a loop. I figured that I was going to be staying there, but I did not think I wasn’t even a centimeter dilated. I did not. 

    Meagan: Right, because you think, “Water breaks, I’m in labor.” 

    Sarah: Mhmm. It’s go-time. 

    Meagan: We associate water breaking with the movies where it’s like, “Hurry! Get to the hospital! We’re going to have a baby.” But in hindsight, we weren’t really contracting or anything like that. 

    Sarah: Not much was going on. Knowing what I know now, sure. I should have stayed home and all of these things, but again, in the moment and in that situation, it’s like, “Okay. Go to the hospital. Show up.” 

    So now, here I am at the hospital and contractions did pick up. They put the monitors on me and set me all up. It was just kind of like shock. I was like, “This is happening. I’m having a baby. What’s going on?” So almost through every single contraction, I was shaking and then I was throwing up. From my birth class, it was like, “Oh, if you’re shaking and throwing up, you might be going through transition.”

    So again, I’m like, “Oh yay. My body is doing what it’s supposed to. I’m so far along. Let’s do this.” And sure enough, I was only at a 2. They were doing all of the cervical checks. I remember specifically this one nurse said to me– so I was only at 2 centimeters at the time and she was like, “Oh honey if this is how you are at a 2, you’re never going to make it to a 10. You should just get the epidural now.” 

    Meagan: Awesome. Thank you so much for the encouragement. 

    Sarah: I was just defeated. Over and over in my head, I’m like, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t what is supposed to happen. What’s going on?” And of course, you can’t stop birth. It’s coming. It’s going. Things are moving and all I wanted to do was just take a moment and pause and stop. My body didn’t want to. It was just all happening. Naturally, I was just so defeated. I had only made it to 4 centimeters a few hours later after she had said this and I was still trying to motivate myself. I had my doula there. She was like, “You can do this. You’re okay.” 

    I was shaking and feeling so scared and just not able to calm down. I think I took what the nurse had said and also just how I was feeling and was like, “I’m never going to be able to relax. I’m never going to be able to do what my body needs to do to get this baby out.” I was like, “Let’s do the epidural. Let’s just see where this goes.” 

    It let me relax, but ultimately what I was feeling was just all of the pressure. She was posterior and it was just a lot of pressure and everything going on. I think maybe if we did some repositioning, that could have helped, but you never know what’s really going on. With the epidural, I was able to relax and calm down. I wasn’t shaking anymore. 

    Meagan: Yeah, which makes it more pleasant. 

    Sarah: Right, yeah. I was like, “Okay. I can get through this. This is fine.” I had gotten to 7 centimeters. Now, they were amping up the checks because I had the epidural, so why not?

    Meagan: You can’t feel it, so why not? 

    Sarah: Right, and then I was approaching that 24-hour mark since my water had broken. I did get to 9 centimeters, but they were just saying, “This is taking too long. You should have progressed further at this point. We should really start to consider Cesarean so that we don’t fall into any emergency situations.”

    Meagan: Did they offer any intervention to help you get over that little hump? Was there any talk there like, “Hey, let’s give you 2mL of Pit. Let’s do something.”

    Sarah: Yeah, really nothing was discussed in that sense, but I found out afterward when I was pregnant with my second that I did have Pitocin. I was hooked up to antibiotics because I was GBS positive and then after the epidural, I believe they just added on the Pitocin. 

    Meagan: But didn’t really talk to you about it. 

    Sarah: No because my provider with my second was like, “Oh, so you had PItocin and everything.” I was like, “I did? No.” They were like, “Well, that’s what it says here in your report. I had no idea that they were even administering Pitocin. Maybe that’s what helped me progress further, but ultimately, it was just not moving as fast as they would like. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Ultimately, it was that lovely failure to wait. Especially because your body went into spontaneous labor, rupture of membranes spontaneously and then it needed its time. There were some interventions which sometimes, not always, but sometimes can slow the body down because the body is like, “Whoa, hold on,” and then it catches back up, but maybe it sounds like they didn’t give you that time to catch it back up. 

    Sarah: Yeah, yeah. It was just one thing after another. After the word “Cesarean” was thrown into the picture, I was just like, ”Oh my goodness. It hasn’t even been 24 hours and I have gone from wanting a completely unmedicated birth to now thinking a Cesarean is in the picture.” 

    I just sat. I laid there in the bed just honestly praying and hoping and saying, “Whatever my body needs to do to get this baby out, allow it to happen.” They came back in and checked me. I still wasn’t dilated, so they just prepped the OR and I ended up with a Cesarean for my first birth. It was just like we said, I was classified as a “failure to progress”. They were convinced that maybe the baby was too large. My pelvis was too small. All of these things were being documented in my report. “This woman had this happen.”

    In their mind, they were thinking, “She’s never going to have a vaginal birth.” This is just a classic, “Oh, she’s going to always have Cesareans if she wants any more kids.” I think that was the picture that they drew up in my file and what was laid out for me with that provider. 

    So going into my 6-week postpartum appointment, I was already like, “Okay. I have to have a vaginal birth. I want more kids. What does this mean?” They basically said, “Oh, well because of your situation, you could try again, but it’s probably going to result in the same situation.” They were already telling me that I should just go for a repeat Cesarean if I were to ever have kids again. 

    Obviously, that did not happen, but I had to really put in a lot of work for myself and my education. I found this podcast. I started my own. It was just all of this rush of, “I need to figure out how I can get this to happen because I’m not getting that support from my provider of believing that I can do this. I know it’s not the story of “once a Cesarean, always a Cesarean” anymore. People are doing this. People are having very successful VBACs. 

    It’s one of those things where if you choose to have a repeat Cesarean, that’s your thing, but if you want to have a VBAC, I feel like trying is something that is so empowering. If it’s on your heart, you have to go for it because it’s possible. 

    Meagan: It is possible and what’s so hard for me to hear is what you just said. Before even getting pregnant or before even getting there, we have these providers placing doubt and fear in our minds. When I say doubt, it’s doubting our body can do it, but also, they pretty much say, “Well, sure. You can try but it’s going to end up the same way, so why waste your time? Just go in and have a baby.” 

    So we’re being placed with all of these seeds. They’re being placed before we even fall pregnant again, so then we are doubting ourselves. I’m just going to say it how it is. It bugs the living crap out of me. It bugs me so much that we have people placing doubt in our ability to have a baby when they don’t know. 

    Sarah: Right. I could have easily been like, “Oh okay. From now on, I’m going to always have Cesareans.” I could have gotten pregnant with my second and scheduled a full-on Cesarean and that would be the path that it went, but I had that successful VBAC. I had a baby come out of my vagina. It was possible. It’s just crazy that I think we need to share these stories. We need to show that it’s possible to send some shock to the providers and make them see, “Okay. We can rethink this situation.” It is something that’s going on. Obviously, women are doing this.  

    It’s really crazy. That provider too was like, “Oh, I just delivered a baby from a mom that had her 10th Cesarean. You can have as many as you’d like.” 

    Meagan: Kind of funny, coincidentally I should say that you said that. We just had someone commenting. I did a reel on breech and she said that she had 10 Cesareans. 10. That is a lot of Cesareans. It is. She just said, “I wish I knew what I know now.” The same thing. That’s the hardest part. We can’t shame ourselves for not knowing then what we know now because that is how this works. We grow. We learn. We experience things and that is what morphs us into the passionate people or passionate person that wants to have a VBAC, right? And again, it’s no shame to those that don’t want to. That’s okay too. It’s just a matter of knowing, “Hey guys, really though. It’s really possible. It really is, and don’t doubt your body for a minute,” because I know people out there do, but you don’t need to. 

    Sarah: Yeah, yeah. It’s so much easier said than done. It’s like, “Okay. Don’t doubt my body.” That’s what I mean. I think for some of us, it is easy to not doubt ourselves. It’s easy to have that confidence. I really needed to work on my confidence. I really needed to work on trusting myself. 

    Meagan: Yes. 

    Sarah: It’s just those quote-on-quote “simple things” that for some of us really take time and a lot of rethinking what we have known about ourselves. 

    Meagan: Mental capacity for sure. 

    Sarah: Yeah, and also, the language that we’re using and the way that we speak to ourselves and then also the way that people are speaking to us like that nurse that was commenting on me only being 2 centimeters and my provider saying, “You should just go ahead.” I had to learn how to take that information and refilter it to just be like, “Oh. That’s their opinion. That’s not truth.” 

    Meagan: Love it. 

    Sarah: That was so much of my VBAC journey and really preparing for stuff. I also was not only like, “How can I have a baby?” because that was the message that I was aiming for from my first, it was, “How can I have a vaginal delivery? How can I have this VBAC?” I took a HypnoBirthing class which covered all of those techniques. It was pregnancy and birth. I even used it in postpartum and was constantly reiterating these tracks that they had of, “You’re doing great. It’s perfect. Believe in your body. Trust in your body.” 

    I needed to put myself into that hypnotic state in order to reframe my mindset to be able to successfully have this. I was just fully embodying everything in that sense. They also say that the color orange is also a really great color for having more activity and oxygen to the brain and really being more clear. I believe it also enhances confidence and happiness, all of those things that you need when you are birthing your baby.

    Meagan: Very positive. 

    Sarah: Yeah, so I bought this big, fuzzy blanket that was bright orange. I had an orange water bottle and I had all of these little battery-operated tea light candles that were orange. I was like, “I am just covering myself in orange.” I am just all positive thoughts because I needed to have that because I knew, “Okay, if I come across a nurse again and if I come across friends or family–”. People were like, “Oh, what? You’re going to be in the hospital though right?” It was like all of their fears were—

    Meagan: Projecting? 

    Sarah: Right. Also, after my Cesarean, it was so much like, “Oh, I’m so sorry that that happened to you.” All of these other people’s perspectives bombarded me with second-guessing my decisions and wondering what I just went through. I was having so much doubt because I was not confident in any of my decisions anymore. I was like, “What am I doing?” Now, I feel like I’ve gotten to a point of that true confidence. Obviously, there’s always going to be something else that comes up. Now, I’m dealing with a toddler and a baby and all of these new things, but being able to throw yourself in that position knowing that there are going to be things that come up that are unpredictable and you’re just going to have to renavigate through that. 

    Having the experience of knowing, “I can rethink this situation. I can put myself in something that I’ve never been exposed to before and make it out.” That’s why I took The VBAC Link doula certification. I was already doing some doula work and things like that. I was like, “You know what? I really feel like I need to educate myself as much as I can and become certified that is specifically in something that’s going to prepare me not only for my birth but also to be able to help other people that are going through these same scenarios.”

    Meagan: Right. That’s why I became a doula. 

    Sarah: Right.

    Meagan: I was so inspired. I’m like, “No, I don’t want anyone to feel the way I felt.” I can’t take that completely away. I can’t take someone’s feelings away, but I want them to hopefully feel supported, educated, backed, and overall just loved because I lacked that. I lacked that with my second. 

    Sarah: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s just dropping into different communities and finding podcasts like this that are going to be able to be amazing resources to give you that, “Oh, hey. Somebody’s doing what I want to do” or “Somebody’s already accomplished something that I see as a potential for me.” I think that we need to see those examples. We need to have these stories be told because it really helps us see that it’s possible. Sometimes, that’s literally all you need when you’re going through this journey. 

    I felt like I was doing all of the things now again with a different perspective and not only preparing physically but mentally because I knew that was just as powerful and as important as all of those external, surface-level things that you are shown when you’re just preparing for birth in general. Even just staying hydrated and I got certified in postpartum nutrition because I was like, “Something is going on here. There is some sort of disconnect. My body is different. My body has changed.” What I believed about nutrition before is not the same as how I’m experiencing the postpartum period. 

    Honestly, just all of that coming together has been super helpful, so I’m excited to listen to that episode that you’re going to have. 

    Meagan: Yes, me too. 

    Sarah: Yeah, yeah because it’s so much information there that is really being uncovered. It’s a lot of new research. Women’s health in general, I think, is being real.y pushed and needed. That also, I feel like, just helped me. Watching what I was consuming and what I was putting in my body. Maybe it’s old wives’ tales but the dates and the red raspberry leaf tea. I was all about it. Even just different smells and the environment that you’re in played such a part in creating that good, calming atmosphere and just reiterated my confidence and held me centered in my birth. 

    I originally when back to the same provider that was telling me, “Oh, go ahead. Have so many Cesareans.” My kids were about two and a half years apart. I went in. “Hey, I’m pregnant again. I’m ready for this VBAC. Let’s go.” They just kept on saying, “Okay, We’ll see how it goes.” My billing came and basically, the bill was for a Cesarean. I was like, “I don’t understand. I’m going to have a vaginal birth. Why are we billing me for a Cesarean?” They were like, “Oh well, you know, just in case.” I was like, “Just in case I have a vaginal birth. Why is that not a route that we’re leaning toward?” 

    It was right after my anatomy scan at 20 weeks. I switched over to midwives that are in the area and they have, I think, an overall 80% success rate here in Greenville, South Carolina. I believe that if you’re going for a VBAC, they are one of the better providers in the area. They definitely want vaginal births. They want that to be the outcome. Once I switched to them, it was not even a thing. They were just, “Oh yeah. VBAC. VBAC.”

    Meagan: Let’s do it. 

    Sarah: Yeah, like, “Okay.”

    Meagan: We’re just going to have a baby.

    Sarah: Right. I felt so much better. It wasn’t until the very end that I was listed as that, “Oh, too big of a baby,” and things like that, they did suggest doing the scan to see the size. I denied it. I said, “No, thank you.” 

    Meagan: How big was your baby?

    Sarah: My first was 7 lbs, 14 ounces. 

    Meagan: What?! That is not a big baby. 

    Sarah: No. Mind you, I’m only 5’0”. 

    Meagan: But still. I’ve seen a 5’2” give birth to an 11-pound baby. 

    Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. By no means were my babies big. My second was actually 8 lbs, 4 ounces so he was bigger than my first and he was my VBAC. It’s really just crazy. That’s one thing as a doula, it’s hard for me to hear people be like, “Oh, well my provider thinks that my baby is going to be big.” I’m like, “Okay, but maybe no?”

    Meagan: Right? Exactly. Like, “Okay, but we could look at it this way too.” I had an interview with someone the other day and she was like, “Well, how do I tell if my pelvis is going to be adequate?” I was like, “Your pelvis is perfect.” She was like, “What?” I was like, “No, really though. Really.” I started talking to her about it and she was like, “Oh.” 

    It’s hard. So you got the diagnosis of “big baby, small pelvis,” but then you look at the baby and you’re like, “But the baby wasn’t big.” So they did the scan…

    Sarah: I did not do the scan. 

    Meagan: Oh, you didn’t do the scan. That’s right. You declined it. You declined it. 

    Sarah: I declined it because I said, “Well, what is that going to tell me?” If they said, “Big baby,” then I was going to have that in my head. I was like, “Do I need to get it?” And that’s what I really enjoyed about them because they were like, “No. It’s up to you. You can make that decision.” I was like, “Okay. I don’t want it.” Also, the same with the checks toward the end. I was like, “Nope. I don’t want any cervical checks. I’ll just wait until baby comes and we’ll see if I want checks then.” But they were super considerate of all of those things and never made anything along those lines a requirement. If they would have said, “Oh no, we need to have a scan,” that could have turned into some other things. 

    It went, I feel like, as well as it could have. By the time this comes out, he will be over a year old, but right now, he is almost a year old and I am still just absolutely amazed at myself and what was able to happen. 

    Meagan: Yeah. Yeah. 

    Sarah: The birth itself was crazy. I started to have pressure waves, contractions, whichever you want to call them, really early in the morning, and then probably for about an hour, I just let it play out. I didn’t wake up my husband. It was maybe only 3:30-4:00 in the morning so he was still sleeping. We were still hanging out and then it just continued though. I was like, “This is pretty intense already.” I was like, “I think maybe baby is coming. Let’s see what’s going on.”

    I had a doula again the second time. We were messaging her and she was like, “Okay, yeah. Perfectly normal. They’re probably just going to teeter out and span out. We’ll see where you are in a couple of hours or so.” I mean, they did not slow down. They were super consistent and kept on coming. I’m like, “All right. Maybe if I get in the shower, I’ll be able to relax a little bit. I’ll be able to get through these.” I feel like the shower was one of the worst ideas because I couldn’t even dry my hair off afterward. I was just like, “Just get clothes on me.” I did not want to do anything after getting in the shower. I was constantly using counterpressure which I feel is the best thing for me and I definitely recommend at least trying it. 

    We did all of the hip squeezes. Every time I started to feel the need for one, I would just yell, “Squeeze!” My husband would run over and squeeze my hips. Again, it was just ramping up and getting super intense. I had piles of pillows in my bedroom and wrapping around them. I was on the edge of our little ottoman in our bedroom and then went to the bathroom and just was moving around as much as I could on all fours, side-lying, and things like that. At some point, I was laying on my side, then my water had broken well into it all. I was just like, “Oh my goodness. We need to get to the hospital now. 

    Once that happened, I felt him drop. I was panicking because I mean, I specifically wanted to have a hospital birth because I just felt like that’s where I needed to be to feel at my comfort level, so once that happened and I felt him, I was like, “We need to get to the hospital! I am not having this baby here.” My friend that was watching our oldest had not gotten there yet and our doula was still like– I think my husband was like, “Oh, we don’t want to get to the hospital too early.” He was downplaying everything because of the previous scenario. 

    Now I say, “New baby, new birth.” This is different. We can’t take what has happened from our past births into this new one because it’s going to be a whole different situation. 

    Meagan: Totally, yep. 

    Sarah: Finally, my friend came over and she was watching my daughter and was like, “Okay, yeah. I’ve got her. I’m covered. We’ll take her to our house,” and things like that. We got in the car and I just remember grabbing and holding on to the holy cow bar and having a foot up on the side and just gripping everything around me going through all of the motions. My eyes were closed and I was just like, “Let’s just get to the hospital.” Somehow, we just kept on gaining more time. I think my husband made a wrong turn and I was like, “Just get me there. Get me there.” I think he was panicking. I’m not sure what happened. 

    We finally got there and my doula was standing right at the door of the hospital. There was actually a wheelchair right out there that I thought she had gotten for me. I just jumped right into the wheelchair and she was like, “Oh, okay.” “Wheel me up. We’re having this baby.” I was so ready to go. I was so amped up and so pumped. I later found out that the wheelchair had literally just been left there by somebody that had gotten picked up minutes before, but she was like, “Okay. We’re going in.” I’m gripping my belly, breathing, and everything. I just remember the person at the front that was checking everybody in was like, “Oh no. We don’t do that here. Go straight up.” 

    Sure enough, we got in and I was already at 8-9 centimeters. They were like, “Okay. You’re having a baby. Let’s get you in there.” I really wanted a water birth or at least to be able to be in the tub, so they started to fill up the water when I was in there, but then after they hooked up the monitors and everything, they said, “We don’t really like what’s going on with his heart rate and we’re just going to keep you out.” I was honestly just like, “Okay. It’s not the plan, but let’s just get the baby out.” They checked me again and they were like, “You’re ready to go. You’re ready to push.” The only thing I had to do was get hooked up to antibiotics because I was GBS positive again which was something that I definitely tried to prevent, but I think that’s just one thing with my body. I am just forever GBS-positive. 

    Meagan: Sometimes it happens and we don’t know why. You might be surprised if you have another baby. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. 

    Sarah: Yeah, yeah. They did ask me as I was getting wheeled over to the delivery room, “Do you want the epidural?” I was like, “Heck no. I made it this far.” 

    Meagan: You’re like, “No. I just want to have a baby now.”

    Sarah: Yeah. It was probably a little over an hour from when I got wheeled in until when he came out. I pushed for maybe about 20 minutes and just that feeling of him on my chest. It’s literally goosebumps. I felt so proud of myself and accomplished and empowered. I was like, “Oh my goodness,” because I didn’t get my daughter to be on my chest with my Cesarean. They had said that that could have been an option and it was not. It was not something that I got to do, so just literally, I didn’t care what he was covered in. I didn’t care what I was covered in. I was like, “Give me the baby.” 

    I mean, honestly, it was such a cool feeling to have that. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. It’s euphoric. You’re in a whole other world. It’s the weirdest thing because you’re there and everyone’s there around you, but you’re in a completely different space. Yeah. It’s a really cool feeling. 

    Sarah: It is. And like I said, he was bigger than my first and when they weighed him and everything, I was like, “See? I can have bigger babies. I can do it.” 

    Meagan: You pushed for 20 minutes. I was like, you pushed 20 minutes with your small pelvis and big baby. 

    Sarah: Yep, yep. I felt on top of the world. I was like, “I can deliver a baby vaginally. I did it.” I took the iconic hand-up-in-the-air photo and was just there snuggling him so much, but yeah. That’s my birth story.  

    Meagan: Oh my gosh. So amazing, so amazing. I’m so happy for you. I’m so happy that all of the doubt that was placed in the first birth was able to just be washed away at the end where it’s like, “Whoa. Yes. I can do this. I did do this. This is amazing. My body is amazing. My baby is amazing.” Hearing your first story, it sounds to me like– I mean, I wasn’t there. I haven’t seen your OP reports. I don’t know. I didn’t see the tracings, but it sounds like still positional probably, or something like that, so yeah. I’m so happy for you. 

    Sarah: Thanks. 

    Meagan: I’m so happy for you. 

    Sarah: Like I said, it’s been almost a year later and I still get so giddy about it. I think it really allowed me to really– I am appreciative of my Cesarean because I feel like if it wasn’t for that, I would not be so called to do this work and such an advocate for it and so wanting to be a part of the birth community as hard as I am. I think we have to take those experiences for what they are and like we were saying earlier, learn from them and really grow with them and be thankful for it and just heal from it and see where you’re still hung up and what needs to be processed. But go into another birth with a completely different perspective and mindset and just what it is. 

    Finding a provider and finding a location where you feel safe, finding a support person, a doula, and things like that, connecting with the community, and really having that comfort is great, but I do feel like we are our one and only true advocates. 

    Meagan: Absolutely. 

    Sarah: We have to take that action. We have to follow through with what we’re learning and like I said, listening to this and being a part of online communities, in-person communities, and things like that is great, but if you’re not implementing what you’re learning and you’re actually taking those actions, it has to click. It has to be like, you do your homework, you study for the exam, and you pass. It’s just like one of those things where I feel like you have to really embody it and when I hear people say, “Oh, it’s so easy.” I’m like, “It was not.” In the end, overall, it’s like when you’re running a race. You have to train for it. You have to be a runner in order to complete it without stopping or feeling exhausted. It’s a lot and I think that’s one thing that is sometimes overlooked. 

    With my first, “I’m just going to walk into the hospital. I’m just going to have this baby.” What needs to be done? I think it’s just those kinds of things. You really have to ask yourself, “Am I honestly doing the things that I need to do? Am I implementing them into my life? Am I drinking my water? Am I clearing my fears? Am I healing from my first birth? Am I asking my provider all of the questions that I have? Am I not embarrassed to find the resources that I need? Am I clearing out all of that negative feedback from other people? Am I doing those things and am I dropping into communities that are supporting me and cheering for me?” 

    I think that’s where the magic is. That’s when it clicks in and that’s when you really get to feel confident and empowered and happy with your decisions moving forward. That bleeds into motherhood. I think that bleeds into the whole postpartum period and really just continuing to build that confidence in yourself is my favorite thing that I learned in motherhood. 

    Meagan: I couldn’t have said it better. I mean, really. You just nailed it. All of those things are so important. In the end, we have the support. We have the processing. We have all of those things, but in the end, we still have to tune into ourselves and you have to believe in yourself. You have to have that. You can have a huge team of believers and cheerleaders, but you also have to cheer for yourself. 

    I love it. Thank you so much, so so much for all of the information. 

    Sarah: Yeah, this has been so much fun. Honestly, thank you so much. 


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    48m | Feb 8, 2023
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