I was doomed! Two prior c-sections plus living in NW Arkansas equaled no VBAC for me. Yes, double the recovery time of a “normal child birth”, that’s what I had to look forward to. I needed to recover quickly – just ask my three other young children waiting at home.
But let’s rewind a bit. During my 2nd pregnancy I looked extensively into VBACs. I asked nurses, other moms, my doctor – even the occasional random person at the grocery store. The answer was always the same. VBAC and NWA are abbreviations that don’t mix, end of story.
With my 3rd pregnancy (baby #4), I asked the same questions with the same frustrating answers. By 37 weeks, I had resigned myself to my delivery method and the c-section was scheduled. You can imagine, therefore, my surprise when the following week Dr. Schmitz told me the hospital had changed its policy and would now allow VBACs to take place.
Now that it was possible, the decision was easy – or so I thought. As we discussed the process and possible complications, I become both excited about the option but also nervous. You see, it’s easy to read that a VBAC can be fatal – until you’re the one having it! Complications are rare, but when they do occur, they can be fatal! When I spoke to my mother about the option she was supportive but also confident I was putting myself in harms way. My sister had forgone a VBAC, only to find her very thin and scared uterus would have caused serious complications. What if I ended up in the same situation?
I don’t take risks. I live by my calendar, keep my natural hair color, and make only safe investment decisions. Did I want to put myself and baby at risk? Did I want to go against my doctor’s recommendation? Lots to think about, not to mention plane tickets had been purchased, meals were planned, and babysitters arranged to accommodate the scheduled c-section. Taking risks was against my nature, but it felt right. In the end, I decided to do what felt best for me and our baby. I wanted to proceed with the VBAC, as long as the risks could be minimized.
To do this, I wanted to understand the success factors. One key to a successful VBAC was progression: the more a woman progresses naturally (without pitocin), the higher the success rate. At 39 weeks, I went in for a check up and found that my body was progressing naturally toward labor. My doctor stripped my membranes and told me to prepare for a day of contractions. Yikes – he was right. This was the day before my ‘planned’ c-section.
THE PLAN: Wake up with my alarm, go to the hospital at 4:30 a.m. Have labor induced if needed. If by 5 pm labor wasn’t occurring fast enough and I didn’t have enough progress, we could take the baby by c-section at that point. This would allow a VBAC in the safest, most controlled way possible. If there was an emergency we would need an operating team and anesthesiologist available. Even though the hospital changed the policy they still only staff those teams during the day from 8-5. This is why I wanted to labor through the day and not end up in the hospital with an emergency at night. I also discussed with my doctor that I was completely comfortable with a c-section if there was any stress or trauma on me or my baby.
ACTUAL: Wow… contractions happened all day. With my previous 2 deliveries being c-sections, I felt like a first time mom. We timed contractions, huffed, and gritted teeth—just like the movies! According to “the Plan” I wasn’t suppose to go into full on labor until early the next morning, but by 1 am, I couldn’t take it any more. We were off to the hospital with contractions only 4 minutes apart.
At the hospital I had one thing on my mind, The Epidural!! I wanted it the minute I walked in the door. Because I was their first VBAC and because it ended up being the middle of the night there was some confusion about who needed to administer my Epidural. So I had to wait until about 4 am until they were able to work it out. Oh, but when I finally got it was worth the wait! Props to all you moms who do it without the epidural.
While laboring at the hospital, everything went well. I progressed quickly on my own, never needing pitocin. While I was at the hospital the labor and delivery was very busy. Because I was having a VBAC I was considered a “High Risk Delivery” and had my own nurse monitoring me along with my doctor the entire morning. By 10:00 that morning I was ready to start the hard work. I have to admit, I was so surprised. I never realized you actually have to “push”. I don’t know what I was expecting, a slip and slide? Forty-five minutes later, I had a perfectly healthy new baby boy lying on my tummy. How incredible! C-section or VBAC, there is no difference. The feeling is always the same, calm, excitement, and amazement. He’s here!
I went home the next morning feeling great. Yes, the next day, not 3 days later. Of course, I was sore and full recovery took several weeks; but overall I was amazed that I could do so much more… and so much faster. Also, my mind was clear because I didn’t require as many pain killers. What a difference! My main motivation for having a VBAC was for an improved recovery, and the payout was sweet – a truly special time for me and my baby.
My words of praise and thanks go to Dr. Lawrence Schmitz (Life Spring Women’s Health Care), Barbara (my fabulous delivery nurse), and the rest of the staff at Northwest Regional Hospital for helping us have a very positive experience. My family and my fat baby are grateful to you all. If you are considering a VBAC, I would recommend spending time asking questions and talking with your doctor about what is best for you in your personal situation. The more information you have will help you make the best decision for what is right for your body and your family! Although we had a positive experience VBACs are not for everyone. I am very grateful that I was able to have this experience and I am now enjoying my sweet new baby.