CAM Birth Story: Cortney's VBAC

This birth story, in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month (CAM), comes from Cortney Speir. Cortney says, “My first birthing experiene is pretty disturbing but my vbac was awesome. Thank you ICAN!” To have your birth story posted on this blog, email it to:

The sun was lightly shimmering through the rose in the stained glass window in our bathroom. I laid there with the bath pillow behind me, a glass of cabernet next to me, Pink Floyd playing in the background and my husband, Patrick, sitting on a folding chair holding my hand. The bath water seemed to absorb some of the intensity of my uterine rushes that were occurring every three minutes at that point.

That morning had started off much like every other morning that week. It was October 10th aka 10/10/10, my official due date. Still haunted by my previous birthing experience I had started my regime of natural induction methods. Bathing in clary sage, drinking red raspberry leaf tea accompanied with eggplant parmesan, long walks and of course the use of my hubby’s prostaglandins. Around 11:00 am my husband, my 2-year old son and I went for a walk down to the park and I began to feel some cramping. I decided to time the cramping and realized they were occurring every 6 minutes. I did not think much of it. My water had not broke, my uterine seal was still in tact and from my understanding contractions did not start at 6 minutes apart. Just to be on the safe side I called our doula, Colleen, when we got home and she explained that these could possibly just be Braxton Hicks but continue to time then and call her if the contractions start becoming closer together. By 1:00 pm they were lasting an average of 45 seconds and were 3 minutes apart, this was the real deal.

I was elated. My body was doing what it was made to do. This was the day I had dreamed of, the day that I had been preparing for for the past 3 years, it was really happening, it felt so right.

Colleen arrived around 3:00 pm and the rushes were continuing to get stronger and closer together. I was moving from bath, to bed, to birthing ball to floor vocalizing with each contraction. Although extremely intense I kept reminding myself to surrender and let my body, my baby and God take control. Around 4:00 pm we decided to make the move to the hospital. Patrick laid down the back seat and I labored on all fours. Throughout the car ride Patrick and Colleen reminded me how strong and capable my body was.

We walked to the labor and delivery floor with a few minor stops in compliance with my uterine rushes. A few people stopped us along the way and asked if I needed help or a wheel chair but Colleen simply explained that I was fine and just working with my body.

I did not want an IV and hesitantly succumbed to their wishes for a heplock knowing there would be bigger battles to fight. And off course when they tried to insert it the first time it did not work and hurt like hell leaving a huge bruise on my arm. By the time they got the heplock in and checked me they announced I was only 3 cm dilated!!! Are you kidding, my heart fell on the floor. Colleen explained that I most likely reverse dilated b/c of my fear of hospitals. She reassured me and said it was nothing more than a number and Patrick encouraged me to get back in my zone. We turned on the LED candles, dimmed the lights and poured some wine in a Styrofoam cup. After a couple of hours in the room the bath finally opened up at the end of the hall. At this time I was 5-6 cm dilated. We gathered up the wine, music and candles and went into the bath.

My contractions were coming every two minutes and lasting for about a minute. The water helped me cope with the rushes for a little bit but the intensity was growing stronger and stronger.

We moved back into our room. The nurses kept coming in to check the fetal monitoring and trying to talk to me. I was trying my hardest to stay in the zone but every time they would talk I would lose my concentration and the severity of the contractions would increase. I would literally cover my ears and scream with each contraction just to block them out. I begged for drugs but Pat and Colleen stayed strong for me and reminded me that I did not want any. At one point I asked the obgyn and nurse to explain Stadol to me and as soon as they started to talk it made my decision. They reminded me of 2 drug pushers on the street, they spoke about it like it was a wonder drug; it was so disturbing I immediately knew I did not want any drugs. And then the obgyn on call came in and said they have to do an internal fetal monitor b/c they were not getting a reading. I immediately covered my ears again and yelled NOOOOOOO through my next contraction. My husband ushered the dr. outside to get the full story. At that time Colleen explained that they were not getting a reading b/c I was moving so she encouraged me to stay put on the ball and work with my contractions while my husband coerced the dr. to give us more time to see if they can get the reading. Thankfully it worked!!!

Dr. Proffitt was called around 8:00 pm. She checked me and I was about 8-9 cm dilated!! I was so thankful she was there; I was soon able to get back in my zone. Another hour passed and she said I was ready to push. I could not believe it, it was go time, and I would soon meet my baby girl. It felt so good to be able to push with my contractions. I pushed through five contractions and there she was, it was such a beautiful experience. Anna Rose Christen Kelley was born at 10:22 pm. She was having respitory issues so they had to give her oxygen. 10 minutes had passed and they brought her over to me, immediately she stopped crying and her breathing settled and we just gazed into each others water filled eyes. She was a beautiful angel. I cannot describe the rush of emotion they took over my body and still does when I think about that moment. She spent her first night in the NICU with Patrick and I by her side, she recovered fully within the first 24 hours.

After 36 hours in the hospital we were sent home. I am forever grateful for everyone in my life who has supported me in this endeavor. The members of ICAN, Sarah Baker and her Birthworks class, Colleen our Doula, Dr. Proffitt, my family and friends and most importantly my wonderful husband. I could not have done it without the strength, courage and support everyone has given me. Thank you for making this experience one of the best experiences of my life.

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