Today we get to share in the sweetest birth story of my dear friend. Abby shared her first birth story a while back. If you missed it, she had a planned cesarean section for breech position.
Well, she went on to have an awesome vaginal birth after cesarean – commonly known as a VBAC or TOLAC. I love her story because she’s so honest about the unknowns going into labor and birth after having a cesarean section. She speaks about using the shower during labor, the birth ball, and spinning babies – all amazing interventions to help her labor proceed normally.
She also shares pictures of one of the best birthing motivation walls I’ve ever seen.
Take a moment to read her story and get all the feels. And stay tuned for the end about her postpartum journey and advice about babies 🙂
Abby tells it best…enjoy!
Bennett George’s story…
I joke with all of my friends that your husband starts to look good again when your baby is about 18 months old, because that’s inevitably when you are ready to get pregnant again. And in my case, that was true.
With my first pregnancy journey ending in a loss I was adamant that we wouldn’t get pregnant right away. Man was I wrong! We were pregnant immediately this time! I was shocked. When I was 12 weeks, we went out to dinner for our anniversary at the Tokyo park Hyatt grill and I had some bleeding. My heart sank. This bleeding was different though and it was heavier – but then it stopped. I went to my OB the next day and we saw a reassuring heart beat and he informed me that this was likely placental implantation.
Fast forward to a military move from Japan to Ohio (I have a knack for moving while I’m pregnant apparently). In Ohio I was blessed to be seen by the same OB provider that saw me Japan and delivered my first babe via cesarean section due to breech presentation after two failed versions (also known as ECVs) and many spinning babies attempts. She was a Godsend who ensured me I could and would be a great candidate to TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean section) this time. I remember feeling so different this time around with a cephalic baby – or a baby that was presenting head first. I could breathe at night and honestly it just felt so much better. At 36 weeks we were still head down! I was stoked! This was happening. We put booked a 39-week induction with my provider of choice and she assured me she would come in for the birth.
On January 29, 2020, I was 38 weeks and 3 days, and I was scheduled as the charge nurse that day. The unit was busy that morning. One nurse was pushing with a patient and immediately had a delivery. Another nurse was laboring a patient and I took the two couplets and a triage. I worked to get the couplets discharged and then I was triaging a rule out labor at term. I remember both of us being about the same gestation and she was shocked I was still working and asked if I was nervous if I was going to deliver in front of my coworkers. I assured her that I loved my team and my only request was my provider. And that’s when my first really strong contraction hit me. It was strong and uncomfortable, and I remember not being able to engage myself in the way I usually do.
I hurried out of the triage room and publicly let my team know I had had the first contraction! Public Service Announcement (or better Public Cervix Announcement!): “We are currently contracting!” My coworkers all laughed and brought me a birthing ball to sit on while I charted. My coworker Ashlie brought me into an empty room and swore by this whelchers spinning babies move; she said that I’d be in full blown labor soon. Well, we joke now because that move sure did kick start my regular contraction pattern. I remember talking to the OB provider about my triage patient and she looked at me and said “Are you okay?,” and I said “No I’m not, I’m just contracting.” But in my head, I was like gosh this is my first-time experiencing labor and man this is tough, I’m a wimp, and I’m probably only 1 cm dilated since I just started contracting. I kept convincing my coworkers I was fine, I would get my patients discharged and all would be well. Well, Ashlee finally convinced me to be checked just to see how far along I was.
I remember being placed on the monitor and I was banging out contractions every 1-2 mins at that point and the midwife checked me. I was 3 centimeters, 90% effaced, and 0 station, but still intact membranes; I was shocked at what my cervix was doing. I decided that since I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have my bags, didn’t have my nails painted, and didn’t have my HUSBAND Trevor, that I would try to just relax in the shower for a bit. I quickly called my husband who was an hour and a half away at school to get his butt over here. My coworkers in the meantime spoiled me rotten!!! They decorated my room and filled it with funny memes, encouraging Bible verses, and blue and pink girl and boy stickers! My favorite flight commander, JJ, brought in some essential oils for the room. It was happening – for real!
Next thing I knew Trevor made it and I was getting an epidural. They broke my bag of water and I was 6 centimeters, 90% effaced and 0 station.
I was shocked! This was really happening all so fast! Keeping in Ashlie fashion, she believed labor positions are meant to be continuously rotated and help to move the baby into the optimal position for the baby to make their appearance. We did all the positions with the peanut ball and she had memorized the names for them all! Convinced she needed to do welchers again to get baby into the right position, I obliged. She broke down the labor bed and had me lay flat on my back. With my contractions coming every 1-2 minutes, we watched my baby’s heart rate drop while I laying on my back stretching. This dip in the heart rate scared the OB provider who was on call (not my provider who promised to deliver me). She threatened a cesarean section due to my history of being a TOLAC. The provider left the room and left me scared and nervous. My provider who delivered my first baby and cared for me this entire pregnancy was not going to be able to deliver my baby after all. Out of all the days with my upcoming due date, this was the one day she was unavailable. Fate would have it that the provider who threatened me with a cesarean section had a family emergency and another provider came on. This new provider came in to check my labor status and asked if I wanted Trevor to catch the baby. I remember keeping it together until the provider left the room and then I lost it. Ashlie looked me straight in the face and said, “I’m not leaving you!” The one thing I had wanted for this birth was the continuity I had had with my provider preference and that was gone.
A couple hours later, after continuous labor position changes and amazing counter pressure from my JJ, it was time– I was completely dilated, and it was time to push. The room was filled with emotion as I lifted my legs and began to push. The room was full of anticipation and excitement as we were unsure about the gender for this little babe. I remember pushing and thinking oh great I’m not pushing at all I can’t feel anything down there (and oh by the way I’m pretty sure I pooped!). JJ got me the mirror and then after the next push, the baby’s head was out! Mind you, no one was expecting that so no one was holding onto my perineum for support (ouch). My husband couldn’t even put on his gloves fast enough to catch the babe. My other favorite boss Nicole screamed and put her hand’s up “It’s a boy!” I will never forget grabbing hold of my sweet little peanut and pulling him onto my chest. Keep in mind, my last delivery I was on an OR table under general anesthesia – I literally remember nothing from the day my sweet girl was born only through pictures. But with this vaginal birth I remember the noises of all the excitement, the sweet smell from the diffuser, the image of my sweet boy looking at me – the tears in everyone’s eyes – Trevor’s especially. I remember once the commotion settled and Trevor and I had two minutes alone I looked at him and said, “This is why people have more than one baby!!”
Fast forward and everyone was looking at my bottom – I was well aware of the recovering process, so I asked if I was hemorrhaging and they all immediately yelled “NO!” Then I said “Oh no, do I have a 4th degree?!” and no one said anything. I greatly appreciated my epidural at this time. With further assessment I was deemed to have a 2nd plus? (so, a 3rd?).
After the birth, I was spoiled during my stay with my team. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better group of people taking care of me and my baby boy. Baby diaper ice packs, sitz baths, and full on rest and recovery with a doughnut pillow were my jam. When I got home Trevor was shocked about my recovery and I remember him commenting saying, “Wow, you can sit down on the ground? You can bend over?” He reminded me how gnarly my c-section recovery was physically and how blessed I was with this current recovery process.
On the postpartum side, I got back into running at about 6 weeks after thinking I was cleared and ready to rock and roll, but my pelvic floor was NOT ready. Urinary incontinence during running prompted my referral for pelvic floor physical therapy where I met and fell in love with postpartum pelvic floor physical therapy! ALL WOMEN NEED THIS postpartum! It was incredible! I loved picking my providers brain on all things recovery and things I now incorporate into patient education post-delivery. I did get back to running but the hormones with breastfeeding reminded me to slow down and I waited until I was done breastfeeding to get my feet back to pounding the pavement.
Some last thoughts: Babies have a unique way of slowing us down. I am your typical type A nurse who has fully developed a love and appreciation for the way a new baby brings forth this season of slowing down, rest, and sabbath. We were fortunate with my son to fully embrace this season of slow during the pandemic and just focus on parenting two kiddos from our home. We had lots of walks in our double bob stroller with babies napping and I know our marriage grew well because of it.
I am hands down planning on being another TOLAC mama for babe #3 coming this Dec (prayers for successful VBAC please!).
Oh the feels!!! Who else has sweet puppy/baby pictures?
When I started the blog, I felt that sharing stories was really important. Stories are a way to learn – and oh goodness – do we need to learn about birth in our current society! Stories are also helpful for mamas. There is a peace in your soul when your write down. and reflect on your birth.
If you would like to share your story, I’d love to post it! Simply write your story in a word document or an email, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and include pictures if you have them.
Even if you don’t want to share your birth story publicly, it’s a very powerful exercise to do on your own. It’s most helpful to do within a few weeks of your birth; but any time will do as well.
Keep Abby in your prayers this winter for a successful VBAC.
Want even more birth stories? Click on the birth stories tab at the top page of the blog.