The story of my home VBAC starts with the story of my csection.
I was due on October 10, 2014 with our baby girl. I was eager, impatient, and ready to meet her face to face. October 10th passed by without even a faint sign of labor. My labor for Leona began on October 14th, around 4am, waking me from a dead sleep. By 7am, we were heading to the hospital an hour away. When I arrived to the hospital room around 8:30am, the OB promptly checked my cervix and announced “7cm, 100%. -2 station, and I just broke your waters to speed this up”. Didn’t ask my permission, didn’t warn me, nothing. This was against my wishes, as clearly stated in the birth plan I brought with me. This was the beginning of the end of the birth I had dreamed of.
By the end of the day, my daughter was born at 8:55pm via csection. I had pushed 3 hours flat on my back (against my wishes and begging) and the OB deemed me unable to birth vaginally. She said things like “losing your baby” and “you’re just not strong enough”. Things that scared me into agreeing with whatever would bring my daughter to this world safely. She was perfect when she came out screaming. 7lbs 14 oz and 21″ of pure independence and stubbornness (just like momma…).
The full story of her birth is much more traumatic and I’ll leave it at that summary instead. I strive to remember all the happiness her birth brought to my life and focus on the positive aspects. She will never know her birth caused me trauma, because it also brought me motherhood. The most amazing gift I’ve ever been given.
Now, this leads us to 18 months down the road. My fully pregnant self chasing around a toddler and eagerly awaiting my chance for a home VBAC. And also eager to know if our second child was to be a son or a second daughter, since we chose to let it be surprise at birth (best decision ever, by the way).
It was the morning of April 18, 2016. I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant and fully expecting to be pregnant another 3-5 weeks. I had even made a Facebook post stating this around 7am that morning, while also asking for last minute guesses on the baby’s sex.
Around 8:02am, while playing BINGO on my iPod, I fell a sharp popping sensation in my groin area. At first, I just thought the baby had given me a super sharp kick. Then when I stood up, my waters went everywhere. I grabbed a blanket beside me and went to tell my mom in her office (she works from home). She gasped and practically yelled “CALL YOUR MIDWIFE!”. So I waddled back to the den, with a towel between my legs, and did just that. Missy was the midwife I always turned to, with her sweet and motherly voice and strong sense of nurturing. She sounded so chipper and yet so calm when I told her the news. I told her I would take a shower and then let her know how I felt after.
At that time, I called my husband who had only been at work a bit over an hour. He knew something was up when he answered the phone, since I’m rarely up at 8am. He didn’t drive at this point in time, so he had his manager bring him home. I remember her skidding into the bedroom 90 mph right as I exited the shower. It was about 8:45 and my contractions had started. They were coming hard and fast, right from the start. I decided to call the midwife, doula, and birth photographer just in case things were going to progress quickly.
My husband started filling up my birth pool in the den as my doula and photographer arrived around 10am. I had been watching Supernatural on TNT when my water broke and I was still listening to it in the background while laboring in the water. I had no idea at the time that I was going to birth a baby boy, who we planned to name after that show. Seems rather fitting now that I think back on it!
My midwives and birth team arrived around 10:30-11am. I agreed to a cervical check, since I was having such intense pain in my pubic bone area. I was only 4cm but I was fully effaced. I tried to labor in the pool more but the water need to be warm if I was to give birth in it. I run very hot during labor and being in the warm water only increased my nausea. I decided to move to the bathroom, laboring backwards on the toilet.
I think if I ever have another baby, 99% of my labor will be spent backwards on the toilet. Something about that position was very relaxing for me between contractions. It also helped me to not worry about the mess, which is a big bonus for laboring. My husband never left my side and someone from my birth team was constantly there to whisper encouragement every time I said “I can’t do this”. I really appreciated their unwavering support, because I said that 100s of times that day. I had this constant doubt in the back of my mind ever since the OB told me I would never get a baby out vaginally. But I pushed through with their support and reached my goal.
I had the urge to start pushing when I decided to leave the comfort of my porcelain throne and go to my bed. I probably started pushing long before I needed to just because it helped to ease the pain and made my efforts seem more productive. It was slow going for the crowning phase, but I thank that for my lack of needing stitches at the end of it all.
After 4 full hours of pushing, I heard the words “Reach down and catch your baby!”. I instinctively reached down and scooped up my squishy baby, pulling him close to my chest. The first words I said were “I DID IT! I’M NOT BROKEN!” and quickly followed by “IT’S A BOY!” because I felt his parts when I reached down to pull him up towards me.
Click here to see that moment! (it’s not graphic)
Jensen Matthew was born at 8:19pm on April 18th. He was 8 lbs 9 oz and 20.5″, even being exactly 3 weeks early.
The placenta came about 20-30 mins later with just a gentle push when I felt a small urge. We put it in a pot and let it sit beside me so we could do delayed cord clamping. I was able to get him to latch at 9:10pm. It was noticed right away that he had a bad tongue tie. We had it clipped by an ENT at 4 days old. Quick and easy procedure.
The midwives made sure Jensen and I were stable and then left my husband and I alone to enjoy our brand new son. We didn’t even decide on his middle name until that undisturbed hour. We decided to use my husband’s first name after our other choice (Alexander) didn’t seem to fit.
After our alone time, the midwife came back in and helped my husband to cut his cord. We left it untouched for 2 hours. Then the placenta was examined and one of the birth attendants went to prep a few small pieces for a smoothie. That’s right, a placenta smoothie! I decided against encapsulating but had read of benefits acquired just by consuming it raw. The smoothie was an orange juice base, blended with lots of frozen berries and a whole banana. It was blended so well that I NEVER would’ve guessed the unusual ingredient. And even if it was a placebo effect, I think it truly helped.
By 11:30pm, just over 3 hours after his birth, the birth team had gone home and we were left in peace and quiet. The laundry had been started by the team, they’d brought food and drink to my bed, and there weren’t any signs left that a birth had just occurred that night in our home. No machines beeping, no nurse checking on me every hour right as I nod off, and no one trying to take my baby boy off to a nursery. I curled up in bed with my new squishy baby and we slept off the exhaustion we both had from the long day. Even now at almost 15 months old, he is still breastfed and sleeping with me. Just like on our first night together. Being able to exclusively breastfeed is another amazing thing I believe my home VBAC gave to me. Since I was never able to EBF for Leona. She was supplemented from day 2 of her life and I was majority pumping by 6 weeks old. I ended up switching to all formula by 6 months. Jensen has been the opposite experience and has been only breast since birth.
I had the most amazing birth and postpartum experience for Jensen and it almost completely healed the birth trauma I experienced for my csection. I recommend home birth to anyone who is even slightly curious about it and I’m more than happy to answer any other questions you may have.
Thanks for reliving the two best days of my life with me.
Photo Credit – Cassie Fox of Atoka, TN
Midwifery – Full Circle Midwifery in Memphis, TN