Shellie’s VBAC Birth Story

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Backstory: My first birth was a c-section due to a failed induction. 46 hours of induced labor and my body failed to progress past 1cm.

For this pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. That, and my age (40 years old) made me considered “high risk”. I was still super excited that both my provider and my high risk doctor, all felt that I could certainly try for TOLAC, and go full term, as long as I was closely monitored and there weren’t other more serious complications. They were all super positive about supporting me for a VBAC. 

I kept my GD well controlled with very little insulin and the pregnancy went surprisingly well. At 36 weeks, the doctor was concerned that Baby Z was measuring small on her growth scans and he let me know that if she didn’t start growing they would need to deliver her early- greatly impacting my birth options. At 37 weeks he let me know that he would watch her for one more week and if she stayed below 10th percentile we would deliver early. This means a scheduled c section or induction, but due to my past failed induction and c section I would have to be somewhat dilated to induce. No dilation at all meant c section. I was devastated. I was worried something might be wrong causing her to be so small and was also worried about needing a repeat c section. 

One day after that appointment, Saturday May 22nd, I lost my mucus plug and a few hours later contractions started. These were not Braxton Hicks but I wasn’t certain if this was real labor or prodomol labor. I labored through contractions all night only for them to stop completely the next day. For the rest of the week I had false labor signs almost daily. 

On Friday May 29th we had our final growth scan. Baby Z was measuring in the 4th percentile. She had not grown and was estimated to be about 5 pounds 7 ounces. Dr. Newman said we needed to deliver within 4-5 days. At this time I had hoped I would be dilated somewhat since I had been having contractions all week. To my disappointment my cervix was a steel trap- closed and no sign of opening. So my only option would be a c section at this point. However, Dr. Newman said if I come in, in labor beforehand, they will let me TOLAC and won’t stop me unless there is a further complication. I went home to prepare myself mentally for a c section early the following week. I was sad, disappointed and nervous about surgery. 

On Monday June 1, I was notified that my c section would be Wednesday June 3rd at noon. However that evening contractions started up. I assumed it was false labor again and went to bed. But this was different- they were coming every 20 minutes and getting stronger. By morning they had not gone away. It was my last day working so I labored while I worked on my birthing ball. I walked around the house laboring through conference calls. By 5 pm they were very intense and almost every 7 minutes. At this point hubs and I were debating if I need to plan a hospital trip or if I would make it to my scheduled c section the next morning. When contractions got to every 4-5 minutes and so strong they took my breath away, we left for the hospital. Arriving at 8pm Tuesday June 2nd, I was checked into triage and monitored. Of course because I finally was resting, the contractions slowed some and to my disappointment I was not dilated at all. My doctor was still at the hospital so he moved up my c section to 8 am since I was in pain and I was sent home to labor at home. Told only to come back if the pain was too severe to tolerate, if my water broke or if I started bleeding. 

We came home. I felt defeated. I thought I was truly in active labor. It seemed like it, but again I thought my body was failing to progress. I went to bed but couldn’t sleep as the contractions were every 7-10 minutes and getting worse. At 12:30 I had a big contraction and then GUSH- my water broke- in bed- flood everywhere. I surprisingly jumped up, woke up my husband and waddled to the bathroom. At this point we knew we had to return to the hospital. 

When I arrived the nurses were not surprised to see me. They had a feeling I would be back. I was admitted and was so fortunate that the midwife I saw the most was on duty. She came on practically cheering me on, and had a plan for how I can TOLAC. She just knew I would be able to skip the c section. I still wasn’t sure my body would do this because I was only dilated to 1 cm. 

I labored until almost 4am and then asked for an epidural as the back labor was so bad I couldn’t take it any further. Plus they wanted to start Pitocin to help me progress so they recommended the epidural. This took the edge off but I was still having contractions every few minutes. My entire team was awesome. They came in every 15-20 minutes and changed my positioning to help move things along and get baby positioned well. 

Finally at 8:30am (now past my scheduled c section time) when my nurse came in I let her know I felt I needed to have a bowel movement. They were going to wait to check me until my OB arrived and if I wasn’t progressing we would talk options but my nurse heard how i was breathing and paired with the feeling of needing to use the bathroom, she decided to check dilation again. I was at a 9 1/2. She said- it’s time to have this baby. I was in total shock. I went from a 1-9.5 in about 4.5 hours and was about to have my VBAC. I didn’t believe it. 

I started pushing at 8:45. The doctor arrived right on time. A few pushes later and baby Z came right out at 9:18 am. The cord was wrapped around her ankle which was what was causing the decelerations in labor for her. 

She weighed 5 lbs and 7 ounces and was 16 3/4 inches long. 

I truly believe she was determined to help me avoid that c section. She knew she needed to come out. So on the day of her scheduled c section she was born vaginally on her own terms. Labor was long and hard but overall much easier than the c section I endured previously. 

I am so incredibly grateful to the Premier Care for Women team for their support and encouragement. I am also grateful for the Banner Del Webb L&D nurses for helping me labor and encouraging this VBAC. They all respected my birth wishes while keeping us both safe and constantly providing me with information and choices. Without this amazing team, this VBAC may not have happened.

I feel redeemed – empowered – proud – and am finally recovering from the trauma of my first birth. This birth was so healing and powerful.

Congratulations, Shellie, and thank you for sharing your story!

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