Let’s take a minute to recover from that thought, shall we?
Another baby girl made her grand entrance into the world on Novemeber 13th, 2008. She was born in hospital and was home three hours later. With today’s advance Health Care system, how could something like this have occurred?
Nine months prior to this delivery both her mom and dad were shocked that they were expecting another baby. After a traumatic delivery with their first child, born by caesarean section, they had not known if they would risk another pregnancy, another surgical delivery. Mom is quoted to have said ‘if I ever get pregnant again, I will have a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC), even if it means we stay at home to deliver the baby’!! The nerve! This topic has remained quite controversial among health care professionals. Some physicians have even gone as far as to suggest that first time caesarean moms schedule surgical deliveries for all subsequent births. Not this mom, she would hear nothing of it. So, as a new reporter for Confessions of a Birth-a-holic, I desperately wanted to chronicle the couple’s experience with this thing called natural birth, and a VBAC at that. How would they succeed? Here is their story…
First of all, these parents took matters into their own hands. They researched and planned for a successful VBAC delivery. How? First they made sure they understood the evidence surrounding the risks and benefits of a VBAC. They were confident in their decision that a VBAC was best for both mom and baby. After much searching, they also located a physician who would support their decision. Many of the doctors they talked with discussed a trial of labour. But this mom was not comfortable with that kind of terminology; she was focussed on a successful natural labour and delivery. Baby’s mom really felt that she had been robbed of the natural childbirth experience with her first baby, who was a footling breech and subsequent caesarean section. With this pregnancy, she was determined to welcome the marvels of womanhood through a vaginal birthing experience. Wow, I think to myself as I reflect on this ideology, the wonders of a woman.
There were many other facets involved with the preparation for the birth. In order to prepare mom for the physical and emotional challenges of labour and delivery, she took a self-instructed hypnobirthing course. That said, during labour she is quoted to have said ‘turn this s--t off’ while listening to her hypnosis CD’s. Apparently the hypnosis preparation was not as efficient as their other chosen support system, a Doula. Huh? What the heck is that you ask? I was dumbfounded upon hearing of this professional but apparently there are women experienced in childbirth who want to provide physical, emotional and informational support to mothers, before, during and after childbirth. News to me (and now you) but not news to this couple! Their Doula was hired because they knew her, liked her, admired her and trusted that she could provide them with the information and support they would require to accomplish their goal of a VBAC.
Since mom had much invested in the vaginal birth of her second child, the Doula had her work cut out for her. She knew personal details about this couple, and the mom specifically (which is a whole other story), that meant she would have to have a heightened awareness of the labour progress and when to head to the hospital. Although mom had earlier said she would rather stay at home than risk a caesarean, she also knew that, as a VBAC patient, her doctor was more comfortable with her delivering in hospital (even if they would have to get a disco ball to give mom the birth experience she so desired).
As luck would have it, baby was one-week post dates (note sarcasm here). Mom went to a doctor’s appointment only to find out that her cervix was posterior. That’s right, there was nothing…notta…zip…zero…ziltch…happening ‘down there’. This news always causes stress for a pregnant mom, since every day after d-day is a ticking time bomb to induction. Not good news for a VBAC mom. But, as luck really would have it, one hour after hearing this news, pressure waves started. Mom had a feeling that these waves were ‘it’ despite having had two previous days of what she referred to as ‘surfing the waves’. So, in response to the realization of the impending birth, mom headed to Fuddrucker’s for a last supper of sorts (it is reported that women labour more efficiently after consuming the Hawaiian Chicken Salad from Fudd’s). Several hours later, mom called her Doula to let her know that the day had arrived, it was a second coming for the mom and she was prepared! The Doula responded by checking in on the emotional state of the couple and setting up a birthing tub for mom to labour in. When mom finally decided to use the tub, she knew the Doula and her tub were God sent.
After a few hours of labouring in the shower, on the bed and in the bathroom, it was finally ‘tub time’ and mom spent four solid hours squatting in that labour tub, with her Doula and her husband never leaving her side. She had finally found her rhythm, as the Doula had counselled them she would. The entire time in the tub, her Doula provided counter pressure on her back during each contraction. Looking back, the mom has said ‘it was almost relaxing…if one can call intense, bulldozing, abdominal pain relaxing’! The Doula also whispered encouraging words and ensured the couple that things were progressing normally. Whew! What a relief to both mom and dad! And speaking of dad, he was also an amazing support during this physically and emotionally demanding task. Eyewitnesses say mom actually bit his leg or hand during some of the contractions. I think we can safely assume that the Doula was happy that she was not on the receiving end of those fangs.
As labour progressed and got more intense, the impending transfer to the hospital was inevitable. The couple desperately wanted to labour at home for as long as possible, in order to avoid unnecessary medical intervention, but they still wanted to deliver in hospital. Time was of the essence and this couple completely trusted their Doula to know when to leave and how to get mom, so far progressed in labour, out of the tub, into the car and to the hospital. And the Doula did. She knew exactly when it was time; she remained calm and supportive while they relocated. They arrived at the hospital 10 cm dilated. Hooray! Mission accomplished. Ah…no…wait…she still had to actually deliver the baby!
Being at the hospital was a whole new experience that required additional support from the Doula. I mean, who makes these hospital policies where the husband is meant to wait in line to fill out forms, whilst a mom in need of physical and emotional support stands alone? Thank goodness for the Doula, who never left the birthing mom’s side. Not to mention, it might have been a bit awkward for a woman to be alone, wearing only a T-shirt and boots in the hallway, leaning over a wheelchair, moaning and groaning. Then again, this is the ER, so maybe not.
Once the paperwork was completed the threesome headed for labour and delivery. This is where mom was in for a real shock. No one had ever told her that the hallway from the elevator to labour and delivery is about a 100-kilometre distance! I was also shocked when she told me. It seems unbelievable. But, I feel it is my duty to let pregnant women know, if you deliver in hospital, you will be required to pass through this extremely long hallway. It’s the only way to get there. Apparently this dad is quoted to have said ‘it doesn’t look that long’ (I believe she may have bit his hand clean off with the next contraction). Luckily, the Doula reassured them that at the end of this little hallway, they would finally reach their destination.
Upon examination by the attending physician, the parents were thrilled to hear that it was time to welcome baby into their waiting arms! They thought this would be quick and easy. The baby would arrive in 20 minutes, give or take a few and they’d be calling all their friends and family with the dirty deets of the birth. Wrong. Thank goodness for the Doula. She was a calm presence, a wealth of knowledge and a great support for the parents while baby took her sweet time descending the birth canal. When the pushing wasn’t progressing, the Doula suggested switching positions, played soothing music, provided physical support and constantly whispered encouraging words to the mother. It was the Doula, not the doctor, nurse or spouse, who eased the fears the mom had of feeling the baby crown and her fear of tearing. She reassured mom that her perineum was being protected and that when the baby crowned, she would be born. It was exactly what mom needed to hear and with the next wave, baby arrived. Finally, with the collaboration of mom, dad, doctor and the Doula, the VBAC birth was successful. Mission accomplished.
I asked this baby’s mom about her feelings on her VBAC experience and this was her response:
“I believe birth is one of the most important, life-impacting journeys a woman goes through. It was a right of passage that I longed for. I wanted to be able to experience the complete submission of myself to my body, to let go and allow my body and my baby do the job they were designed to do. I did this with the support of my husband and my Doula. This was a major accomplishment and despite that, there was no hero cookie handed to me when it was over (which was fine, I wasn’t hungry anyway). Besides, I had my supportive Doula, my proud husband to give me all the kudos I required. The only thing I’ve pondered since the birth of my baby is this, where were the news media and television crews???”
I couldn’t agree more. Woman naturally births 7 lbs 14 oz baby girl! Now that is news worthy!
( this was submitted by an amazing mom who loves to write in third person)