When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I remember anxiously looking forward to the day I’d wake my hubby up in the middle of the night and tell him, “It’s time!” I wasn’t really sure of what would happen after that. I hadn’t done a lot of research onto how to pull it off, but I was sure that I wanted to opt out of pain medications.
And then on December 14, 2013, I felt my first contraction at 6:30 in the morning. And I knew it was for real, despite all the previous weeks of Braxton Hicks. I had prayed that she would come before her EDD, which was Christmas Day. And sure enough, like I’d planned, I woke up the hubs excitedly squealing, “It’s time! I had my first contraction!”
Her birth did not turn out like I had hoped. I went into it unprepared, and after 22 hours of labor, and being dilated to 10 cm, I had to have an emergency c-section because her oxygen dropped. Although becoming a mom for the first time was a joyous occasion for me, having an unplanned c-section was, for me, devastating. It all felt so out of control.
I know other moms who share the same experience, of having an unplanned c-section the first time they give birth. For myself, I can say that I just didn’t go into it prepared. It turned out NOT to be what I wanted. Then, five months later, I saw the two pink lines again (Surprise!) And there was no doubt that for my second birth, I wanted a VBAC. I started vigorously doing research on how to manage my pain so that I could go into labor confident and ready. Then, in February 2015, I welcomed my second daughter, after the most (literally and figuratively) breathtaking 15 hours of my life… which ended in an unmedicated vaginal birth. And then in the summer of 2016, I had my second VBAC with my son, after a whopping four hours of labor.
Everyone should be proud of their birth stories! When I tell my stories, I get asked a lot why I chose to pursue natural childbirth after my cesarean, and these are my reasons:
1.) I felt more in control of my birthing experience.
It took a lot of research, planning, and preparation, but it was all so worth it in the end. I did something that I never knew I was capable of doing. I had decided what I wanted, and I did it!
**Let me be the first to say that, if you have a cesarean, whether it was scheduled or not, whether it was desired or not, that doesn’t make you any less of a mom. If you had an epidural, or if you had pain meds, or if you chose to go all natural, or if you tried to go all natural and then later asked for pain meds, that doesn’t make your birth story any less worth telling. You own your birth story, no one else. The most important thing is that YOU are the one who is in control.**
2.) I was the first one to hold my baby.
Although this is not the case for everyone, my spinal tap that I had in my epidural affected me from the neck down. So, when my daughter was born, I couldn’t move my arms, and so I was not able to hold her until the anesthesia wore off a few hours later. That was actually the initial reason for me choosing to pursue a VBAC the second time around. It was incredibly disappointing to not be the first one to hold my baby.
3.) Natural births can sometimes reduce the need for other later interventions.
In my process of researching VBACs, I noticed there was often a link between medical interventions, such as an epidural, use of Pitocin, intravenous pain medication, induction, etc., and having a c-section. Although this was not always the case, for me, this research pointed me in the direction of NOT using any pain medications during my labor to minimize that risk of having a c-section. With my first baby, I’d had an epidural. While I will never know if that became a factor in my need for a c-section, it definitely played a part in prompting me to research alternative means of managing pain.
4.) My recovery time for my natural birth was a fraction of what it was for my c-section.
It was about 3 days after my c-section before I could get up and walk, and even then it involved pain. With both of my VBACs, I was up walking less than two hours later. I was also able to leave the hospital sooner.
5.) The pride I felt in my accomplishment was immense.
After months of research and practice, I had done it. I look back on my last two birth experiences with absolutely no regrets whatsoever. I can’t even begin to tell you the sense of pride and elation that I felt each time. I felt in control. I had achieved a goal that I’d been planning for months, and it had NOT been easy. It was exactly what I had wanted.
What is YOUR birth story? How is yours unique? Please share in the comments! In my next post, I will share what methods of pain management during labor worked for me, to give me the birth experience I desired!