Episode 302 Emily's CBAC + How Views Can Change

55m | May 22, 2024

Emily’s first birth experience was a home birth turned hospital transfer which ended in a C-section and then a birth center VBAC ending in hospital transfer and another C-section with her second. She found herself feeling alone, frustrated, and surrounded by people who just didn't get it as she worked to process the trauma and grief of not one but two back-to-back traumatic births and C-sections. 

Throughout her journey, Emily took charge of what she could, learned about her options, and made the right decisions even when they were disappointing. Emily has been proactive about physical and emotional healing. She has been open to new perspectives. Emily is grateful to share her story and all that she has learned for other mamas who have found themselves in similar situations. And we are so grateful that we can feel of her strength! 

The VBAC Link Blog: How to Cope When You Don't Get Your VBAC

The VBAC Link Blog: Deciding on VBAC vs Repeat Cesarean

NPR Article

Spinning Babies: What to Do When...

Needed Website

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

Full Transcript under Episode Details 

05:02 Review of the Week

09:10 Emily’s first pregnancy and labor

14:59 First C-section

17:47 Second pregnancy

21:16 Moving and switching providers

33:20 Pushing for 5 hours

35:45 Transferring

37:47 C-section

41:29 Tips for adhesions

44:20 Hospital births are beautiful

49:09 All about transferring

Meagan: Hello, everybody. It is Meagan and we have our friend, Emily, with us from Texas today. Hello, Emily. How are you?

Emily: I’m good. How are you?

Meagan: I am wonderful. I am so wonderful. I love recording these stories if you can’t tell. We are producing them a lot because I love recording. I love hearing these stories and sharing these stories. Your story is a CBAC story which I think is so important to share on The VBAC Link Podcast. As technically a CBAC mama myself because I don’t know if anybody knows who is listening, but I had a C-section then I wanted a VBAC and had a Cesarean and then I had a vaginal birth. So all over the place. 

CBAC is really special to my heart and I think that this is such an important topic to share on the podcast because we know that obviously, so many C-sections are happening, right? I also think it’s important to know that sometimes even when we are preparing for a VBAC, it might end in a Cesarean birth and even more important, I think it’s really important to know that Cesarean births can be healing and are a lot of the times healing. Would you agree with me, Emily? 

Emily: Yes. I mean, I loved hearing the healing stories. Mine was not and I think that’s what I yearned for to her is that I’m not alone and it’s okay to have a repeat C-section and I hate calling it a failed VBAC, but a repeat C-section that wasn’t wanted and wasn’t healing. I mean, my second birth was much more traumatic than my first. I mean, I hate saying traumatic because I have two beautiful, healthy babies, but I also want listeners to know that just because you have a healthy baby and you didn’t have serious complications you can’t feel what you felt about the trauma of it all. 

Meagan: Okay, and I love that you point that out too because just as much as Cesarean birth can be healing and can be amazing, it can also have a lot of that trauma. Trauma, I think, is a completely valid word to use. It can be used to be described as traumatic. It can be described as hurtful. I was angry. I was angry when I walked myself down for my second C-section. I didn’t want that. That was not what I wanted. It was not what I planned. 

Yeah. Also, going into that it doesn’t always happen the way we want to. It can go both ways so that’s why I think sharing CBAC stories on this podcast is so important because we have to learn both sides of things. We have to know that Cesarean birth can be healing and it can be exactly what someone needs and it can also be traumatic and not what someone needs. I think that through these stories and through the journeys, this is how we learn how to try to avoid trauma and anger and hurt along the way. 

05:02 Review of the Week

Meagan: Before we get into this story, I do want to read a review. Okay, Emily, so remind me. You had a home birth transfer? 

Emily: Yes. A home birth transfer C-section and then birth center transfer C-section. 

Meagan: Birth center transfer C-section, yeah. I also want to talk about transfers at the end. We’re going to talk a little bit about transferring and when it might be a good time to transfer, when it might be starting to give us signs that we might not be in the best place, and then also how to go about what to do after you transfer if you’re transferring because that can also be a big mess too sometimes transferring depending on how the hospital responds to you. 

We’ll dive in to these stories but I do want to read a Review of the Week. This was from winben18 from Apple Podcasts and it was on May 19, 2023, so a year ago right now. It says, “I had my first baby in 2021 11 pounds at 42 weeks via Cesarean because he wouldn’t descend. I was told I couldn’t birth him because he was too big and my pelvis was too small, but I always knew that wasn’t true. My mother, a very petite woman, birthed me naturally and I was 11 pounds, 9 ounces. In 2023, I had my VBAC with another 11-pound baby. No epidural, 7-hour labor, and I credit that success to The VBAC Link. I started listening to them religiously at 38 weeks when my provider started fearmongering me about birthing a big baby. I needed every little bit of encouragement and The VBAC Link provided that. It’s incredible how your body’s physical capabilities start with your mindset. Thank you ladies for all of your stories. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.” 

Wow, that was an amazing review and so grateful. Holy cow, winben18, yay for an 11-pound, 8-ounce baby. I agree with what she said that it starts with our mindset. A lot of the time it does. We can also be in the best mindset ever and things might not unfold that way but if we can set our mindset and get going and get the education and the empowerment and the encouragement, you never know. Things can go a really long way. 

So as always, if you guys have a moment, we would love your reviews. You can leave it on Apple Podcasts. You can leave it on Google even or on Spotify. We would love a 5-star review and if you can, comment. Tell us what you guys think. 

Emily: I love stories of petite women birthing big babies actually because I’m smaller and I had big babies. I’m like, I know I could do it.

Meagan: Yes. Yes. She talked about fearmongering. A lot of people do get fearmongered. They start saying, “Oh, I don’t really think you can,” and it’s so hard when we have a lot of people doubting our own bodies and then we start doubting them even though we didn’t have doubt originally. It’s so hard. It can be a tough cycle, but Women of Strength, it is possible. 

09:10 Emily’s first pregnancy and labor

Meagan: Okay, Emily. Let’s dive into these stories. I know you mentioned in the beginning that you had a second Cesarean and it wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t amazing, so I would love for you to of course share your stories but also maybe talk about tips you would suggest for someone in your situation maybe looking back where you’re like, Oh, I could have done this, or tips for people in your situation. 

Emily: Okay, so my first son was born in May 2022. I got pregnant with him in September 2021 and I knew immediately that I wanted midwifery care. I wanted a home birth and to be honest, I had no fear. I was very confident. I was like, I can do this. I’m in shape. I eat healthy. There is no reason why this isn’t going to go perfectly. 

I mean, I can’t be the only one who has thought that and it was the complete opposite. It was a fine pregnancy. I was very, very sick until about 20 weeks. I lost almost 10 pounds in my first trimester, but it turned out to be a wonderful pregnancy. I love being pregnant. I love it. 

Anyway, I went into labor at 6:00 AM and I guess active labor really started around noon. We were at home. My husband started filling up the birth pool. My midwife was on the way and she had an assistant midwife with her. So really, we just labored at home. 

Then I would say probably about early evening, they checked me and I hadn’t made very much progress. I think I was at a 4 or a 5 and I’m trying to remember correctly. I think that’s when they told me that the baby was at a tilt. 

Meagan: Asynclitic or the whole body? 

Emily: You know, I really don’t know and I think a lot of it has to do with why I have struggled so much with that birth because I feel like that birth catapulted me into the next C-section, but I feel like they had said anterior tilt, but I don’t think that is correct. 

They broke my water because I wasn’t progressing and then they were trying to turn him after the fact. I think that’s where things went downhill. They checked me. I wasn’t progressing. They were like, “We can break your water. It will speed things up.” And I agreed. 

I think that was my first mistake. I think a lot of that has to do with me not preparing as well as I should have and me with the mindset of, I can do this, no problem. That is my first regret from my first birth.

Anyway, so they broke my water and then after that as everyone knows, contractions were off the wall. They had me laboring in one position on the bed on my left side to try to get him to turn and then they had me on the toilet so I went back and forth between there. Every other contraction, they were in there trying to turn him. 

So basically, this went on until about 4:00 AM at home. It was my first labor. I was in an extreme amount of pain and I just was exhausted. I felt like it wasn’t going like I planned obviously. 

So anyway, we transferred to the hospital. That was about a 30-minute drive to the hospital which was not fun at all. It was the wee hours of the morning so we went in through the emergency room, got up to triage, and I think I got my epidural within 45 minutes to an hour and just from what I remember, that was a very intense hour. I just remember thinking, What the heck? This is not how childbirth should be. 

Anyway, so I got my epidural. I labored with an epidural for a few hours and they started me on Pitocin so epidural, Pitocin– 

Meagan: The usual. 

Emily: Yeah. Nothing was really happening. They were doing Spinning Babies with the peanut ball and the bed to try to get him positioned better. 

Long story short, we got to an 8 and this was probably gosh, almost 48 hours later that I got to an 8. The hospital where I birthed is very home-birth and transfer-friendly. I had midwives on staff there who cared for me. One of the midwives home birthed her babies too so that was cool to have her caring for me and understanding my mindset of wanting to birth at home and then obviously I wasn’t at home anymore. 

But regardless, they were saying, my water hadn’t broken for over 24 hours. They weren’t concerned about that and I loved the evidence-based care there. I love that. But they did tell me, “You know, the way things are going, you could get to a 10. You could push for a couple of hours and end up in an emergency C-section.” It’s almost like that verbiage right there was enough for me to be like, “This is it. Let’s call it. Let’s get the baby out. We want to meet our baby.” We were being surprised on the gender so we were very excited for this baby to get here. I went to 39+5 with him. 

14:59 First C-section

Emily: And so anyway, we called it and we did the C-section. I don’t think– obviously the birth was traumatic for reasons like I explained, but the C-section wasn’t awful. I didn’t feel any tugging. It was a very pleasant Cesarean. They did delayed cord clamping, not traditional delayed clamping, but they waited for it to stop pulsing and cut it. They took him to the table and did all of the hospital things and then wrapped him all up and gave him to me. I was able to do skin-to-skin and nurse while they put me back together. 

Then they took him off to the nursery. I remember them asking, “Do you want your husband to go with him?” I’m like, “Yes.” I think it was just those little things. Those are the moments and tidbits that I think any mom who has experienced traumatic births thinks back on. I didn’t get to touch him right away and I had all of these dreams. I wanted a water birth and my whole pregnancy, I was like, I’m going to pull this baby right up to my chest and nurse him and it’s going to be beautiful. 

When you have that dream and then you get the most extreme opposite, I mean not to the fact that I was under general anesthesia and it was horrible, but in my mind, it was the complete opposite of what I wanted and it sucked. 

Anyway, so then we go back to recovery and I’m nursing him and everyone who has had a C-section listens to this podcast or most of them. You don’t really feel a lot of pain until the second and third day when most everything wears off. It was just hard. It was a hard recovery. It was hard to hold him. He was almost 9 pounds. It was hard holding him. When you nurse a baby, they sit on your belly. It was just hard. 

I also struggled with vertigo and I got horrible vertigo on my last day at the hospital. I was throwing up which is awful after abdominal surgery and they gave me a pill to stop the vertigo. Then the lactation lady comes in and says, “Oh, that’s a level 3 dry-you-up pill.” 

So then I’m into supply issues and it was just an awful, awful recovery. I hate saying that. I want to be positive, but it just was not fun then on top of that, I was doing triple feeds. I was nursing, then supplementing, and pumping. My milk really didn’t come in for 3 weeks. I was very blessed. When it came in, it was in and I got over the dry-up. 

All in all, it wasn’t great. 

17:47 Second pregnancy

Emily: Anyway, fast forward, I got pregnant 6 months later. It was not planned. I remember taking a shower and I have unscented face soap and I could smell it. I was like, Oh my gosh, no. I took a test and it was positive. The baby was asleep. He was asleep in his bassinet right by my bed and I went to my husband, “I’m pregnant.” 

My husband, I want to give a shoutout to husbands who are supportive and there. I could not ask for a better partner during labor, during births, and recoveries. He is right there. He is an amazing man, so I want to give a shoutout to him. But yeah, so then I’m pregnant again with a 6-month-old and I knew immediately I wanted to VBAC. 

I started to look for supportive providers and we were in Austin which you would think Austin has wonderful doctors. It is very progressive in the medical industry, but I was really struggling to find a provider who would accept me. A lot of midwives turned me away. Birth centers turned me away. 

Meagan: Was that because of the duration or just because you were a VBAC in general?


Emily: It was the duration. 

Meagan: Okay. 

Emily: I should note that. My babies were 15 months apart. Most of the birth centers want you to be 12 months postpartum by the time you get pregnant and then OB offices are a hit-and-miss, I feel like, with any VBAC. 

But I found, for anyone who is local to central Texas, I found Austin Doulas I think it was what it was called. I called them and they gave me the name of an OB office. They assured me that all of the OBs on staff were very VBAC-friendly. 

I contacted them. I should note also that when I found out I was pregnant, I called my first midwife. I was like, “Listen.” I love my midwife. We connected on so many levels. I do think there were things done in labor that shouldn’t have happened that catapulted me into the transfer and the C-section, but nonetheless, I loved her. I called her and I was like, “Hey, I would love to do my prenatal care with you and then maybe deliver at the hospital.” This is where my mindset was at the time. 

She basically told me that yes she could do my prenatal care but I would have to have a planned C-section at 39 weeks. At that point, I was like, Okay. I have learned enough in the little prep I had done in my first birth to know that was not necessary. So I go and she did schedule me for a growth scan because I did not know how far along I was. I ended up being almost 8 weeks pregnant by the time I did the growth scan. 

Anyway, so then I started my care at the OB office around 12 weeks. They were very supportive. I remember at one of my appointments, they gave me this sheet. It was a VBAC facts sheet and they had you initial every line on every item. It was very much saying that VBAC is safer than a repeat C-section for the right client. 

I told my husband, “Wow, this is great. I love this.” So we stayed there for a while. I know I shared in my notes I transferred care at 34 weeks. I feel like before I talk about that, I should say that at 6 months pregnant, we moved. 

21:16 Moving and switching providers

Emily: For anyone listening, unless you have to, I don’t recommend that especially with a 10-month-old. I think he was 8 or 9 or 10 months at the time. It was a lot of work, but we were living in Austin. Austin is very busy. We didn’t have any family around. Our friends were far. It was a good hour drive from any of our friends so we decided to move back to my husband’s hometown where we had friends and family. It was just like we needed to go. 

As we know, the real estate market was in a really good position. I know it ebbs and flows but at the time, we were like, Now is a good time. Let’s just do it.

So anyway, we moved. I was 6 months pregnant when we moved and we continued care at my OB office in Austin. I was driving. I would take the baby to his grandma’s and then I would drive into town, a 2-hour drive for these appointments. 

At this point, it felt so difficult for me to find care and we live in a small town. Now after the fact, it’s hard to find supportive providers where we are without driving into Houston or Austin. 

So anyway, around 34 weeks, and this is probably silly on my part, but they stopped calling me a VBAC and started calling me a TOLAC, a trial of labor. 

Meagan: But they were calling you a VBAC prior. 

Emily: Yes. Yeah. We got closer and I think also when you’ve had midwifery care and you go to a traditional OB type of care, it’s just worlds different. You get big and big and later and later in your pregnancy and you are hormonal. It was just like, I did not get the warm fuzzies. I was in and out in 5 minutes. I had to ask them to feel the belly to find the baby’s positioning. I had a lot of trauma from the first birth about baby positioning. I worked very hard during this pregnancy to make sure I did everything that I could do to make sure this baby was in a good spot internally. 

So anyway, the appointments weren’t great. They started calling me a TOLAC. They started telling me things I couldn’t do in labor. They were talking about inductions at a certain time period and scheduled C-sections for X, Y, and Z. I told my husband, “Look, I know this is going to be expensive.” I prayed on it and I was like, I just feel like I need to switch. 

I should also note that I found this birth center when I was around 30 weeks pregnant and I was always like, Man, I wish I would have found them earlier. But they are extremely VBAC-supportive. For anyone in the Central Texas area, I cannot say more wonderful, amazing things about these women. They are Christian-based, very VBAC supportive, multiple VBAC supportive, wonderful success stories. They do breech births. 

Meagan: So good to know. 

Emily: Yeah. In my mind, I’m like, Oh gosh, with my last baby, positioning was hard. I know these women will be able to get this baby out. If the baby flips, I don’t have to stress out about a repeat C-section. Blah, blah, blah. 

So I switched to them at 34 weeks and like I said, it was the most wonderful care. Everything you would want from a midwifery practice. 

Meagan: What was their group called again? 

Emily: They’re called Dulce Birth and Wellness Center and they are in Killeen which if you are familiar with Texas, it’s north of Austin in between Austin and Waco on 35. 

But yeah. I was driving to that so I was driving an hour and a half to my OB office. I started driving 2 hours to the birth center for appointments. For anyone who is scared to travel in to birth somewhere that you feel fully supported, comfortable, at home, yes it can be difficult, but it is so worth it and even though I didn’t get my VBAC, I would have 1000% done it the same way that I did. 

27:47 Going into labor

Emily: So anyway, I’m with them at 34 weeks and I go into labor at literally 40 weeks on the dot at midnight on my due date. I was like, Wow, this baby is punctual. 

Meagan: Yeah. 

Emily: Yeah, so I started contractions around midnight. It wasn’t active labor. I was in contact with the midwives throughout the night. Around 10:00 AM the next morning, my contractions were pretty steadily 10 minutes apart. My doula, I also had a VBAC-specific doula who works with the birth center pretty closely. She was turned to my point. I asked her, “Can you just be my point of contact?” She was like, “Yes.” 

So around 10:00 AM, my contractions were 10 minutes apart and they were like, “I think y’all should head in.” My husband was at a meeting 45 minutes from the house so he came home. We packed up. We had all of the birth center cooler food prepped. I was going to bring some beers for after the birth. I was ready. I was so excited.

During this pregnancy, I prepared so much. I had chiropractic care. I had pelvic floor therapy once a week. I was doing the stretching, the exercises. I was doing breathwork. I was on it, on it, on it and I was so excited and I was so ready. I just knew that I could do this. 

So we drove in. I got adjusted as soon as we got into town because it’s a 2-hour drive. We went to the chiropractor and got adjusted. We got a hotel so we could labor at the hotel for a while before we went in. 

I was talking to my doula and they were all like, “Go out to lunch. Have a good day in the city.” So we ate lunch, checked into the hotel, laid by the pool, went out to dinner, and that was really when we got to dinner. We walked into a Chinese buffet. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea. We got seated and I told my husband, “I can’t. They are too intense to eat here.” 

So we went to a sandwich shop, ate some sandwiches and by the end of dinner, I was like, “Okay, we’ve got to get back to this hotel.” Things were picking up. They were 5 minutes apart at this point. 

We got to the hotel. Our doula comes over. Probably within 45 minutes, I was at 3 minutes apart. I remember thinking to myself, Oh my gosh, Emily. You’re going to do this. Your labor is picking up. The contractions are how they should be. 

We packed up our bags. The birth center was 10 minutes away from the hotel and we went to the birth center. I was 3 minutes apart. I walked in and I think they got a new location since then, but regardless, the whole setting was just beautiful. Dimmed lights, we had a big birth suite with the pool, and bathroom. I labored and as soon as I got there, they welcomed me with open arms. They are just the sweetest ladies. 

Like I said, I would recommend this birth center a million times over to anyone even if you are not trying to VBAC. 

I labored in the shower for a while. That was nice. I had a birth ball in there. I was doing squats. Like I said, I was in a freaking good mindset. I was ready to have this baby. This baby was a surprise as well so I was excited. A surprise gender I should say. This baby was a surprise all around. 

So yeah, we labored in the shower for a little while then went back to the birth suite. I was in and out of the pool and the bed just doing whatever felt right which is another big reason that I wanted to switch because if you’re birthing in a hospital, you’re on a bed especially if you are a VBAC, you’re strapped to a monitor. At least that’s how they were going to do me. They weren’t going to do the intermittent monitoring because of the VBAC.

It was just a wonderful laboring experience. Contractions were picking up. They were starting to become not on top of each other yet, but I would say a minute apart. 

Meagan: They were a minute apart? Holy cow. That’s on top of each other. 

Emily: When I tell my stories, my friends are just like, “Oh my gosh. You’re just insane.” I’m like, I can’t be the only one who labors like this who has had these types of births. 

Like I was sharing with you earlier, I just wanted to find similar stories because it’s the similar stories that help you work through things in my opinion. 

So anyway, I got onto the toilet and they had the TENS unit on my back. That was okay. I had heard a lot of women. I listened to a natural birth podcast as well during this pregnancy and a lot of women were like, “The TENS unit was awesome.” Personally, it didn’t do anything for me. 

We went back to the bed. My water broke naturally and that’s when it was like contraction, contraction. It was no break at all. 

I guess I didn’t know any of this, but they went and got Trevor, my husband and they were like, “The baby is coming. It’s time.” They were like, “Okay, it’s time to push.” I pushed forever. 

33:20 Pushing for 5 hours

Emily: I was on the birth stool and I just kept pushing it felt like. I’d be like, you know you’re in labor and you’re unmedicated. You have choice words like, “Where is this baby? What’s going on?” I had chosen not to get cervical checks because the last time, cervical checks just really messed with me mentally with progression and everything. 

Anyway, I was on the birth stool and I was pushing. It was nice. I was on the birth stool with the hanging thing from the ceiling. 

Meagan: Yeah, like a rebozo. 

Emily: Yes. 

Meagan: Were you having the urge to push? How did they feel like you knew?

Emily: Yes. 

Meagan: Okay. 

Emily: And I’m sorry if my story is sporadic and all. 

Meagan: No, it’s good. This is good. 

Emily: But yeah, I had the urge to push and I had really done a lot of practice of breathing. You hear these women, “Oh, I breathed my baby out.” Anyway, I was trying to breathe and finally, they were like, “Okay, I think it’s time to push,” and I was like, “Okay, thank God. I’m ready.” 

So I pushed and my husband would tell me after the fact, “I mean, I was so excited. We were going to have this baby at a birth center.” He was like, “I could see this much of her head. She was coming.” 

Meagan: Oh, okay. 

Emily: Long story short, I pushed for 5 hours. I decided to get checked because I was like, What the heck is going on? I was fully dilated. I was practically crowning at this point, but she checked me and I had a cervical lip. I hadn’t done a lot of research on that. I do know that sometimes they naturally push out of the way, but she had me do some different positions during contractions to get the lip to go away. 

Then finally, as a last resort, she tried to push it away during contractions and that was just so painful. I just remember it being so painful. I know you’re unmedicated and you can feel everything. At that point, I was like, “Just give me the numbers. What are my chances to get this baby out here?” 

She was like, “Emily, I’m going to give you a 60/40.” At that point, I was like, “I need to transfer.” They were trying to get me to breathe through contractions and to not push because I was so swollen. It was like I couldn’t. My body was just doing it and I had no control. 

35:45 Transferring

Emily: So to speed things up, we transferred to the hospital. It was the same hospital system which I was grateful for. That’s St. David’s in Austin. My first baby was born at Main. This baby was born at the North hospital, the women’s center. They are very holistically minded, as much as you can be at hospitals. 

That transfer was a 50-minute drive so that was fun. I was like, Here we go again. Let’s do this transfer. We busted into triage, guns hot. They knew I was coming. I got my epidural pretty quickly within 30 minutes. They had me push a couple of times then they checked me and they were like, “You’re an 8.” I was like, Okay. Here we go again. 

Meagan: Swollen. 

Emily: Very swollen. I know I had probably regressed on the drive over just with everything going on. I’m trying to speed my story up so I can get to my thoughts and reflections on it, but basically, I labored at the hospital for a very long time. They started Pitocin. I know I keep saying long story short and it’s just a long story, but they came in. The baby’s heart rate wasn’t doing well. They took my temperature. It was 103. Boom. I had an infection. They gave me Tylenol. It brought the fever down, then around 2:00 AM and this was two days later. 

I don’t know with the timing how to explain it, but they were like, “It’s time.” My midwife and my doula who came with me agreed. It was nice that I had that second opinion. I just was so upset. I was crying. My husband was crying just because he knew. I think he just knew how badly I wanted it and how hard we worked. 

Meagan: Yeah. 

Emily: Anyway, I met the surgeon and he was wonderful. He was like, “What do you want? I want to make sure this is done right.” He gave us everything we wanted. Delayed cord clamping, my doula was in there. She took photos and everything. 

37:47 C-section

Emily: The C-section wasn’t great. I’m glad I had my doula in there. She was a VBA3C mama so she knew her stuff. I’m explaining, “I can feel tugging. I can feel this and that.” She was like, “That’s normal.” I didn’t feel that with my first C-section.

Yeah, they pulled her out. She was a baby girl. She was freaking screaming bloody murder, nothing like my son. My husband had announced both babies. He said, “It’s a girl,” and they let me touch her immediately. I just wanted to touch her and this is probably weird, but I feel like moms understand this. I wanted to touch her fresh out, blood and all. That’s my baby. I was able to do that and they took her away. 

I had a really bad infection, chorio. They had to flush my uterus and my abdomen. I was on double antibiotics for three days in the hospital. They were having to– I call it stabbing. They stabbed the baby every day to check on her and it was tough. I had in my mind, “When did this infection start?” I didn’t get checked until the very end. I don’t know. 

Yeah. It was hard. When we were in the C-section, he was like, “Who did your last C-section?” In my mind, I’m like, That’s a great question, why? “What’s wrong?” He was like, “You have really bad adhesions.” He fixed everything up. He came and checked on me the next day. 

Long story short, I will birth at this hospital again. But it wasn’t a healing Cesarean. It was tough. Again, the nursing, the pain. I feel like both times, I really struggled. I’m not saying I didn’t bond with my babies, but I think the toughest part of my births were the postpartums. It’s such a hard recovery. I feel like people who have never had a C-section before, they don’t really understand. 

I’m not saying that vaginal births aren’t difficult to recover from, but it’s not full-blown abdominal surgery and then boom, caring for a new life. I couldn’t hold the baby like I wanted to. I couldn’t do the things I wanted that I dreamt so hard of when I was attempting this VBAC. 

This mentally was hard because it was like, boom. A double C-section. All I’ve ever wanted were hands-off, holistic births. That’s why I struggled so much with the two C-sections. I don’t want to knock anyone. I had very supportive friends and family, but the “at least you have healthy babies”. 

Yes, I know I am so blessed. I don’t want to downplay that because I know a lot of women who don’t get that, but it doesn’t fix the birth and how awful it was. It was a tough C-section. I had incision issues, but I healed up and I was fine. I started scar work right away. I went to my pelvic floor therapist. She had me doing diaphragmatic breathing. 

I know I need to wrap up. So to kind of summarize, after my first C-section, I don’t think I took the steps necessary to really heal myself with the scar work. I was petrified to touch my scar. I’m sure other people can relate to that. Then I was pregnant and I was like, Well, what’s the point? It’s stretching out anyway. 

41:29 Tips for adhesions

Emily: To any mom who has just had a C-section or is preparing for a VBAC or a birth and you don’t know if you are going to have a C-section, that scar work and that internal breathing, that pelvic floor is huge on your recovery. I learned so much about adhesions. Last time, it was the baby positioning. With this next baby, I’m going to be freaking out about adhesions. 

But yeah, it was tough. So my midwives, bless their hearts. They do a home visit 3 days post-birth. They drove all the way out to where we were to do a home visit. They brought us dinner and my midwife was saying, “Emily, I could not believe that that baby was not flying out of you. You have a great pelvis. Your contractions were so strong. Your pushes were strong. I just could not believe it.” She was like, “I think it was the adhesions.” 

I had never even heard about adhesions which is silly. Again, prepping on my part, why did I not know about that? But yeah, so that is what they think held her in. It was a baby girl. I don’t know if I said that. 

Meagan: Adhesions, really, that’s a really common side effect or I don’t really know the right– it happens after a C-section. Sometimes it can happen more and we have really dense or many adhesions and then sometimes people have lower. 

That’s why I love pelvic floor therapy and people like Ask Janette on Instagram because they do talk about that care early on and how important it is early on. 

So many people like you don’t feel comfortable touching their C-section or their scar or they don’t like looking at it or have a negative feeling when thinking about it so processing your birth can also help get to that next step of working through those adhesions. 

Emily: Yeah. I will say my second birth was much, looking back on my first birth, yeah it was kind of traumatic, but this second birth was tough. I was FaceTiming my friend in the hospital afterward just sobbing about the infection. I don’t want to put this baby on antibiotics. I’m very holistically minded. The epidural and the Pitocin were a huge blow to me personally. I can’t be the only one who feels that way and that has had to have two C-sections. 

44:20 Hospital births are beautiful

Emily: In summary, I really want to share this with listeners. From my first positive test in September 2021 to now, my views have changed drastically on the hospital system for the better. I didn’t have an awful hospital experience. I think the trauma came from the extremities of my situation not getting what I wanted. It might seem selfish, but it’s the truth. 

Anyway, I am very grateful. I am very, very grateful for conventional medicine. I don’t know what would have happened with that first baby. He came out looking like he had been in a cage fight just beat up from whatever was going on in there and then my second baby with the infection and then myself, gosh. What a blessing that I didn’t go septic. 

I’m very grateful for conventional medicine. I am grateful for that second C-section even though I am still struggling to process. I didn’t want it, but to clean up the adhesions, to clean out the infection and all of that. 

But yeah, my views have changed drastically. I feel like I should share yes. I attempted a home birth. I don’t want to call it failure. I didn’t get my home birth. I didn’t get my birth center birth. You know, I’m not done having babies. That’s why VBAC is so important to me. Also, just pulling your baby out yourself, how cool. I want that so badly. I think I’ve wanted it from the get-go.

My plan is I want to birth again at St. David’s, at the women’s center. Yeah, I will travel in to do that. I feel like also, I got to the point in my labors where I couldn’t hold back pushing. I think it’s important to note for any women to weigh your pros and cons of, Do I want to birth in a birth center? For me personally, I don’t think that is a good option again. If I’m getting to the point where I can’t breathe through contractions and I’m swelling, that’s what modern medicine is there for. An epidural can calm you down and maybe get things going back on track. 

Between that, I told my sister-in-law, “I feel like God is working on my testimony through my births. I feel pulled by Him to share what I have gone through so other people know, yes. You may want a holistic pregnancy, a holistic birth, hands-off, do-it-yourself, midwifery, and that may not be in the cards. That’s okay. Don’t lose hope in the medical system. There are wonderful OBs. There are wonderful midwives who work in conjunction with hospitals and they know their stuff just as much as the holistic midwife does.” I think going in armed and ready and doing your research, not relying 100% on your provider to save the day is huge. 

But yeah, I just feel like that’s important to note because I know the holistic community, I don’t want to call it toxic, but you hear all these things like, “Oh, hospital births are bad. Epidural and Pitocin are so bad,” but it’s not bad for everyone. I think that’s something that needs to be shifted to where you have holistically minded medicine and conventional medicine working together. I feel like I’m the perfect example of how it didn’t go as planned, but my views have changed on that and I am very grateful even though the births– I’m not trying to downplay it. I still struggle to come to terms with why. Why? It all goes back to that first birth. If I could have avoided that first C-section, what could I have done? But I did the best I could with what I knew at the time and what a blessing that I’ve learned as much as I have since then. I want to share that with other women who want that holistic birth. 

There’s so much that you can be doing during pregnancy to set yourself up better than I did. Anyway, I’m rambling on and on. 

Meagan: No, you’re just fine. The prep is really important and to know how to prep and all of the ways to prep and it’s a lot. It’s so much. It’s so much for someone wanting to have a baby in general and then for VBAC moms, there is definitely this extra thing when it comes to preparing mentally, physically, emotionally, and all of the things. 

49:09 All about transferring

Meagan: I wanted to touch a little bit on transferring. If you are planning on a home birth or a birth center birth and it comes down to a potential transfer, one, what are some signs that we may need to transfer? For you, it was like, Okay. I just got this percentage. That, to me, was confirmation to transfer. You can have those questions. What are things looking like? Is this going to happen? What can we do? Is there something we can do? Sometimes in that holistic world with home birth and birth center, they may give Benadryl or they may have nitrous to help avoid the urge or whatever. They might have homeopathic stuff, I don’t know what your location has, but there are things you can try and then sometimes you are like,  I don’t know. We’re going to go. 

Or maybe you want epidural relief or baby has been having some nonreassuring heart tones here and there and that’s enough to make you want to transfer or for someone to want to transfer you. For first-time moms, I think NPR shares a little article and it says, “For first-time moms choosing home birth, up to 37% transfer to a hospital largely because the baby is unable to come out.” There is a lot of the time within this. I hear this and I’m like, why? Why are we not having babies come out? Sometimes I do feel like we push too early or we don’t recognize a positional thing. 

So a lot of the time when there is a cervical lip, we might have a malpositioned head. I mean, literally ever so slightly that needs some help, but it’s hard to know or there may be scarring or there may be something going on causing that lip to stay. Then, it can. It can swell so when people say, “Oh, you can’t go backward.” Well, yeah. It can swell. You can get swelling which then closes. 

So transferring and getting an epidural or getting an epidural at that point even if you’re in the hospital is a really great option for a lot of people because they want to avoid that urge to push causing more swelling. 

You just have to weigh out your pros and cons. They do point out that planned home births end up with fewer Cesareans. 53 births to 1,000 compared to 207 per 1000. This was in 2019. It’s been a little bit. We’ll include this in the show notes if you want to go give it read, but I think it also comes down to find the best location for you and then follow your heart. 

I love that you pointed out that hospital birth doesn’t have to be bad. It’s so true. There are so many beautiful hospital births. I’ve seen them personally as a doula. They don’t have to be traumatic and they don’t have to be crazy. 

Do your research. Find out the locations next to you and around you. I love that you mentioned that you traveled. Traveling is worth it if you find the right provider and right location that’s going to help you feel supported and loved and guide you through. 

I am grateful that you shared both of your Cesarean stories. I am sorry that it didn’t happen exactly how you wanted it to. It’s so hard when you’re like, The why. The why. Why did this happen? What could I have done? It reminds me of Julie’s radical acceptance episode. I don’t know if you’ve heard that, but it’s so hard to not understand the why or take out the what if, but through these experiences, I think we learn and we grow and sometimes we have to let go of the why. 

I still don’t know some of the why’s that happened in my VBAC. It’s frustrating and sometimes I find myself latching on and feeling very angry or frustrated or confused. It’s so hard to have those feelings, but I think that we grow. We grow as individuals and I can see that you are growing. You also said that you changed perspectives which can be sometimes hard to do so you are. You’re growing in the right directions. I hope that for your next births that whatever you decide to do, vaginal or a Cesarean, that they are a healing experience for you. 

Emily: Yeah. Well, I mean, like I said, I appreciate coming on so much. I just encourage everyone to listen to y’all even if you haven’t had a C-section. Knowing what you can do to avoid it from the get-go is huge. 

Also, I feel like I should say that I found an OB close to where we live and I hear a lot of them say, “Well, if you would have just had a C-section because of a breech baby.” It’s the trial of labors that turn people away from the VBA2Cs. “Your two C-sections were–” I already explained them, “and that’s why you’re not a good candidate for VBA2C.” You all have so many stories on here where people have failure to progress, small pelvis, you’re too small, your babies are too big. This, that, or the other I don’t feel are good reasons to just not attempt a VBAC if that’s what you are wanting to do and that’s where I have found myself is I’m trying to figure out what I want to do next because I already know the minute I find out I’m pregnant, people are going to be like, “No. No, no, no.” 

Meagan: Yeah. That is so hard. That is so hard. We’ll include a blog, How to Process When Things Don’t Go As Planned. We’ll include the blog, Cesarean or VBAC: How to Decide to try and help anyone who is in your same boat and relating to at least have a starting point of how to go and what to do. I just really appreciate you. Congratulations on both of your babies. I am so grateful that you were here today and have a wonderful one. 

Emily: Thank you. You too.


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