Muskegon Momma Shares her VBAC Birth Story

Adorable VBA1C baby!

My VBA1C Story.

So here it goes! I am a little late but I just finished up with school and having a newborn baby, and her being baby number two with a 5 year old boy at home has been quite the adjustment for me, but things are really coming along great and he is an amazing big brother to her!!! I had my amazing VBAC! I gotta say, my story is one of these stories you mommas trying for a VBAC MUST READ. I read stories like mine everyday during my pregnancy and they gave me so much encouragement. Because after what I had been through with my son, I honestly had a lot of doubt deep down. I was 17 when I got pregnant with him. I did not educate myself, I thought having a baby was nothin! I figured everyone else seemed to have a baby no problem, so why can’t I!? But as we all know birth can be very unpredictable. So as far as what happened with my son I will try to make a long story short, I went in for my last OB check up, which was a day before my due date and my blood pressure was extremely high so I got an ultra sound to check my fluids, everything seemed fine, but they did schedule me to be induced for June 13th. Hours after pitocin started I was making little progress even after they broke my water, ended up getting the epidural and after 24 hours of labor and 4 hours of pushing I ended up with a c-section. My son was posterior and was showing signs of stress. I just remember, after being told that I was going to be having a c-section, all I kept telling my sons father is “I feel like a failure, why can’t I do it!?” It was all very traumatizing. The anesthesiologist was a complete smart ass when came time to bring me in for the c-section, cuz I mean there was so much to joke about, right!? Afterward I was shaking so bad, I couldn’t hold my baby for nearly a half an hour after the c-section, not to mention I was so doped up on morphine and whatever else, I could barely function. I will say my son was absolutely perfect. 8 pounds 2 ounces and 21 ½ inches long, and very healthy. When the surgeon paid me a visit in the recovery room he informed be that I would HAVE to have the rest of my children a c-section in the future. I was highly upset. I was upset about the outcome of my birth, I felt everything had went wrong, and that I failed. Recovery was also very painful and lengthy!! But, my recent experience with my daughter was very healing. I feel empowered, strong, hopeful, blessed and so many other beautiful things that birth can possibly make you feel, but most importantly, I got my baby girl, who arrived healthy! And I was healthy! But enough rambling and on to the best part!

Ok, so I found out I was pregnant March 1st of this year. I guess I wouldn’t say it was planned, but we weren’t necessarily trying to prevent it. At first I was just like ok, I guess I’m going to have another c-section, that really sucks. But then my stubborn bitch side kicked in and I was like wait, no, they can’t make me do s***! I mean they can’t really force me to have surgery, I’m not doing it, I refuse. Most people thought I was crazy and I heard a lot of “oh but you have to” and “you’re not allowed” but I was determined. I was also determined to breastfeed which I was unsuccessful with my son as well. (which has been going great as well ) But anyway, I told my midwives that I really wanted to have this one natural and they told me I better go in when time to push or the more safer route would be to go to Spectrum, so that is what I planned to do. But then I was actually talking to my stepmom and I was explaining to her that I really wanted to have this one natural and she told me to look into hiring a doula. I heard of a doula, but didn’t really know what they did or anything about them. And then a few different people referred me to Faith Groesbeck. What a real kind hearted, and genuinely beautiful soul she is. So explaining to Faith what I wanted as far as birth and telling her about my first experience she suggested I go to Gerber Hospital in Fremont. I made my appointment to meet with the VBAC supportive provider for the first time and when I got there I couldn’t meet with her because she was in delivery with one of her patients. I could have rescheduled but I wasn’t going to be able to meet with her until closer to the end of my pregnancy. I was a little frustrated, understanding that things happen and it wasn’t her fault, I just decided I would go to Hackley. It’s right down the street from my house, yes they are not as VBAC supportive as I would like, but I just kept in mind that they can’t force me to do anything and that I CAN DO THIS. And I did eventually accept that, if I HAD to, if there were extenuating circumstances that required me a c-section, than I would because my daughter and my safety was number 1. But unless it came to that, I was determined to have my VBAC, at Hackley Hospital. No matter the risks (because I did an extensive amount of research and there were risks, yes, but very unlikely considering my circumstances. I was not high risk.), the paperwork I had to sign or the attitude that was given, because honestly, no one’s attitude was going to be bigger than mine, and paperwork..??? Give it here!

Other than all of the morning sickness I had at the beginning of my pregnancy, it went really well. I had a little bit of preterm labor scare at about 25 weeks, but was most likely due to lack of water. After that I would have Braxton-Hicks here and there but nothing to get to excited about. I was very patient up until the last 3 weeks of course. The anticipation really started killing me. On Halloween though, I lost part of my mucus plug. I did feel some excitement because I knew my body was making changes, but my due date was in 10 days so I also knew that it didn’t necessarily mean anything. I could have been pregnant for another 10 days, or longer!! So I went about my week as normal, but was definitely trying to get last few things done around the house in case she decided to come a little early. I was supposed to go visit my grandma in Grand Rapids that Saturday but I called her Friday because I was having Braxton-Hicks very consistently and had a feeling the baby would be here soon so I wanted to spend my weekend doing the final last touches to the house and the kids room. So Friday morning I woke up feeling fine, I had sex about 11 am-ish I think it was and about noon I started having the Braxton-Hicks. I went to the grocery store, came home and was hanging out with my son for a bit. He was supposed to spend that whole weekend with his dad but I didn’t want him to because I knew when the baby came he was going to go with his dad for about a week or so so I could recover a bit (my kids have different fathers, so you’re not confused lol) I didn’t want him to go though because I was sad that it was my last little bit of time left with him being my only child. So I told his dad that he could go that night but I wanted him back Saturday if I could so that I could soak up the time with him. So anyway, my son went with his father that evening and I got this huge burst of energy and cleaned everything. I mean everything. I also cooked dinner and made brownies! Meanwhile the contractions were starting to be more consistent and somewhat uncomfortable, they weren’t anything unbearable. It was about 9 pm when I noticed they were at about 10 minutes apart. I was not concerned though because I was still in minimal amount of pain. At 10:30 I lost the rest of my mucus plug and then I thought, ok my body is making more changes, GREAT! I think I may have somewhat been in denial. As I’m communicating with a good friend of mine, she’s all like “baby time, you’re going to have her tonight watch” and I’m all like yeah right, I wish! Although I did feel she was going to come soon I just didn’t think it was going to be that night or anything in the near-near future. Lol. Anyway I decided that jusssst in cassse the baby came that night I decided I Should take a shower and do my eyebrows lol. So it was about midnight and my daughter’s father showed up, he works second shift and gets out of work at 11. I told him I wasn’t sure, but I thought labor may be on its way. Lol denial at its finest…and at 12:30 I crashed really hard, so I laid down. I woke up at 2am from the sharp pain of a contraction. It wasn’t anything excruciating, but enough to wake me out of my sleep. I sat up and just dealt with them as they were a little uncomfortable. I texted my grandma and told her I thought I might be in labor. She called me immediately and asked me how far apart my contractions were and I told her about 3-4 minutes apart. She told me to go in, I told her that i didn’t want to go in because they would send me home. Yeah my contractions were close together but I wasn’t in that much pain yet. You would think if you were in real labor you would be in a great deal of pain right? So I called a close friend of mine and asked her how much pain she was in when she decided to go in and she said she was in so much pain but they kept sending her home. So Brandon, (my daughter’s father) said we should go in, and here I am like no I just don’t really want to get sent home… but with him and my grandma hounding me I said okay, I’ll go in, but watch me get sent home. Right before I left my house the heat turned up a notch! It was about 2:45 when we arrived to the hospital and when I got out of my truck I knew then it was real labor because I couldn’t walk through the contractions anymore. I could still talk, and was breathing through them, but they had me hunched over. They got me checked in and the Nurse checked me and said “okay they will probably be keeping you but the Doctor will be coming in shortly to check you again, now I understand you had a c-section with your first” I told her I wasn’t having a c-section and she says “Well, do you know our policy here at Hackley on VBAC’s?” Of course I went in there with my diehard attitude and I said, I know you guys are going to try to make me have a c-section and its not going to happen. She says “Well we aren’t going to make you do anything, but we do have to let you know the risks” Her name was Lauren, She was awesome and I will never forget her. I won’t forget any of those residents there that night. I also reminded all of the residents that I did not want an epidural or any other form of pain medication. The Doctor that came in, his name was Dr. Thomas Duncan, and right away he checked me and told me that they were going to do what they could to help me have a successful VBAC and went through the ricks with me and that it was going to be either him or Dr. Gale-Butto that would be helping me deliver. So wait am I dilated though? I asked him. “Yes, you’re dilated to 9, your water is bulging and I can feel baby’s head” he says. I got scared. It was really happening, I was about to have this baby, SOON! I was in a good amount of pain by this time but was breathing through the contractions and felt I was doing okay. I was scared mainly of what was going to come when my water broke. As they moved me to the room where things were getting much more intense I suddenly felt the urge to push and my water broke. They wanted me to hold off a little bit because I tested positive for group b strep but its kind of hard to hold off when your body is taking over. At one point i asked if it was too late for the epidural, and Lauren the sweet nurse I will never forget, encouraged me that i was so close and she believed i could do it without, along with my daughter’s father and one of my Doulas Elizabeth (Unfortunately Faith was not able to make it due to important life events in which I do not hold against her for we were communication the entire time, and she was very encouraging as well) . You can do it they kept telling me. One of the other nurses came in and wanted to check me again but I refused firmly. I was in so much pain by this point, hands feeling in my vagina is the last thing I wanted! And besides when they checked me last i was at a 9, what do you need to check again for!! I thought. I told them I wanted to push when I felt ready and that I wanted to listen to my body. So after my water broke I could not fight the urge to push any longer. It was time to start working that baby out! I would say when I first started pushing I didn’t feel like anything was happening but i was in all this pain and i felt like I was trying my hardest. So after a number of pushes and feeling like it would never end I got fed up with the pain and decided I would take in that deep breath and push with all my might. The harder I worked, the sooner I could hold my baby girl in my arms. It’s truly amazing what you body can do. When she was crowning I reached down and felt all of hair and it was almost relieving and it made me so happy to just be able to touch her and know it was almost over. Unfortunately there is no picture of me touching her head, but Brandon, her father did say the look on my face was priceless and he will never forget it. What’s also crazy is pushing your baby out, and wanting the pain to end so badly, but having the doctors tell you to push, but don’t push so hard, because they were working her head out and her shoulders. Lol That took some control, but had I not listened I may have tore worse than I did. But after pushing for an hour and enduring that great amount of pain that I had no idea I could handle, my beautiful baby girl arrived at 6:12 am weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces and 19 inches long, HEALTHY and PERFECT. It was instant relief and all I could think about was how perfect and beautiful she was and that I DID IT. She came out eyes wide open and sucking on the back of her hand. She was ready to nurse and latched on right away, no problem! I feel like a momma lion!!! I knew I could do it, and the encouragement i received from those around me helped so much!!! I will never forget the residents that helped me deliver at Hackley hospital. I am truly blessed and I hope you mommas who are trying for a VBAC get some encouragement from this, you CAN do it!!

Chani’s Birth Story

I’ve wanted another baby since I had Felipe 16 years ago. At that time, I was living in a squat in the lower East Side of Manhattan with his father, a jealous man who already had two children with a woman he was still legally married to. My parents were here in MI and his parents lived in Puerto Rico. As if that wasn’t isolating enough, he was delusionally convinced that I conceived Felipe when cheating (I hadn’t) and that I lied to him in order to get pregnant (I didn’t). So, for 8 months, I had no affection from a crazy person who screamed at me every day that I needed to get an abortion because I was ruining his life. I otherwise enjoyed being pregnant and thought, “This would be so much better with someone else.” It just took me 16 years to find someone. It was worth the wait.

As far as hospital births go, I had a pretty good one with my son in 1998. After 22 hours of labor, I showed up at the hospital at 8 cm, 100% effaced and delivered him attended by midwives with three pushes about 1 and ½ hours after I arrived. Aside from several things that made getting breastfeeding off to a good start harder than it should have been, I was satisfied with the experience, but felt overall that being there was unnecessary and the staff were just in my way. I decided then that I wanted to have my next one at home.

This time around, making it to term was my goal. Both my parents were extremely premature and my son was a month early, so I didn’t expect to make it to 40 weeks. Still, I kept scheduling activities as though my due date wasn’t real just to keep my sanity. At 38 weeks, I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions daily. I had back labor with Felipe and never felt my uterus contracting, so I really enjoyed the repetition and rhythm of these sensations. At first, we took this as a sign that something was about to happen, but after a few days it got old. After two weeks, I just ignored them so as not to alarm anyone in public and tried to forget I was pregnant.

My due date was on a Saturday. The following Thursday, I had an appointment with my midwife, Susan Wente, at her office in Newaygo. We had already discussed having her strip my membranes and I was all for it. My elderly and bedridden grandmother had come to live with me around 37 weeks and it was getting really hard to take care of her with the big belly. I had help lined up to get me through postpartum recovery, but I felt like the lives of everyone involved were on hold for this baby and I was ready to give birth. Susan has a reputation for being successful in starting labors in this way. In fact, she told me that 60% of her patients go into labor within 72 hours. I knew that I was already 100% effaced and felt like this should work. Having it done was moderately uncomfortable, but it was over quickly.

At about 6 AM the following morning, I was lying in bed when my water broke. The fluid was clear and odorless. I texted Susan and woke up Matt to get me something to put between my legs so that I could get downstairs. I spoke to Susan on the phone. The night before, her dog got in a fight with a porcupine and needed medical attention. I hadn’t had any contractions at that point, so I told her to tend to her dog and I’d keep her posted.

The moment I stood up, I started getting contractions. I had enough time to tend to my grandmother, use the bathroom and call my bestie, Rachelle, to come over before they really started to demand my full attention. Rachelle started timing the contractions, which lasted 45 seconds to 1 minute with no break in between. I kept trying to wrap my head around relentless contractions at the onset of labor. It was the kind of labors people have in movies, but not in real life. I was hoping this was real, but kept thinking it wasn’t because I knew labor wasn’t supposed to be like this. My bestie got in touch with all of the people who were supposed to be there with actual experience: my midwife, my doula (Cindy) and my doula friend (Laurie). Rachelle timed my contractions, looking scared and concerned, while I instructed Matt (my baby’s daddy) in hip squeezes and sacral massages, the only things that were even remotely helpful. I stood up for each contraction, roaring through them. When they were over, I’d get on my knees, thinking I’d get a break, only to jump right up again. I started to doubt myself: there was no way I was going to be able to keep this up for 24 more hours!

I thought I’d try the shower. I stood at the back of the tub with the water on my lower back, but ended up getting out. I was in so much pain and there were no breaks and no relief. At the height of the contractions, I felt like my hips were stretching so far apart that they were going to snap and go flying in opposite directions. I was leaning against the bathroom wall, howling at the top of my lungs, when Janis Flint, the midwife’s assistant, arrived. I told her all of the things that I hear women say at births, but never thought I’d say myself: “I can’t do this! Make it stop!” And she said the simple words that myself and other doulas have said to so many other laboring women: “Of course you can! You are doing it!” What magic there is in positive support at that moment!

Somewhere between running around to find the supplies for the birth I had stored away and supporting me, Janis told me that, due to liability, she couldn’t check me for cervical dilation, but that I should reach down and check myself to see if I could feel the baby coming. Her request made no sense to me. It was as if she was asking me to fly a plane when I had never flown before. I tried to check myself, but didn’t feel a head. How much longer could this go on? Just about then, Susan arrived. I was never so happy to see anyone in my entire life and I’m not exaggerating. Her words of, “You’re fine. Your baby’s fine. Everything is perfectly normal,” was like stardust sprinkled over my head. She wasn’t just calm, she was cheerful.

Susan checked me and I was fully dilated. She asked me where I wanted to deliver. I was naked in my bathroom and my brother, grandmother and son were in the other room. I was in intense pain and wanted to not be in labor anymore as quickly as possible. We weren’t going anywhere. How did I want to push? I tried to get into a supported squat with Matt, but that was just awkward and uncomfortable. I got on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor and, leaning against the bathtub, pushed out my baby in three pushes.

My baby was wrapped in a towel under me while I was trying to recover from that whirlwind labor. I looked down between her legs and saw she was a girl and let Matt know. Felipe came in and cut the cord. Matt took off his shirt and held Chani Alice while I delivered the placenta and got cleaned up. By then, my other support people had arrived. Janis and I measured and weighed Chani. Laurie gave me a leg massage and gave us all a tour of Chani’s heart-shaped placenta before preparing it for a smoothie. Cindy helped me with breastfeeding. Matt contacted family and friends, who started arriving. It was 10:30 PM before everyone left and the house was quiet.

That’s my birth story for my daughter who came into the world one morning in the late summer of 2014, 20 ½ inches and 7# 9 oz.