Alexander Joseph

born January 22, 2005 at Tampa General Hospital, told by Elizabeth:

I always felt somewhat responsible for my daugter’s casarean birth. I was not properly prepared for this first birth. I took the weekend class at the hospital and figured I would try my best to avoid drugs.

My Mom actually told me not to over prepare. Besides, I thought. Why would I need a c-section? I’m healthy and in good shape.

Let me tell you a little bit about how my first birth went.

My water broke before labor started with my daugther at 37 weeks. I expected to go late and was totally caught off gaurd. My parents drove me to the doctor because my husband was at work. Dr sent me over to the hospital at about 4pm as I was beginning to dilate. I was all alone when a nurse came in and told me that I needed to stop “climbing the walls” and lay down when I was trying to get into a more comfortable position that I learned about in my short but sweet childbirth class. The nurse said “You need drugs.” I resisted at first, but then chose an epidural as I did not know how to cope with the contractions. I think this was a big mistake. I was fully dilated a little after 10pm and began pushing. I had them turn down the epidural but then had it turned back up again. The baby was in a weird semi posterior position. The dr tried to turn her many times, but she would just flip to another weird postion. I pushed and pushed for over 2 hours and then they wanted to do surgery. I protested and pushed for another hour, but had a c-section at 1:43 am. My baby was taken to the NICU and I didn’t get to hold her for 6 hours. She had lots of trouble learning to nurse, and, except for a couple times the first day, didn’t latch on until she was over 2 weeks old. I cried a lot. I felt like I had failed.

So, I got pregnant again. I live in Tampa, Florida. There are midwives available who will do a home birth VBAC, but they can not legally do VBACs in the birth center. I was not interested in a home birth. Being home in my messy house is not relaxing to me. I had to research to find a hospital that would allow a VBAC. I found a midwife group, the only group I know of in Tampa, that would provide care for a VBAC candidate at Tampa General Hospital. I liked the group, except for one woman. She was extremely discouraging. She kept talking about uterine rupture and death a lot. I had to sign some scary consent forms. In November I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. What a pain! My top concern was that the diabetes would jeopordize my VBAC. I had to be super strict with my diet. I loathed it. In December the midwives were concerned that the baby was “still breech” but I felt it turn when I was about 34 weeks after two days of walking for hours. I was told more than once that my chances of success were not good and the OB consultant for the group did not want me to try for VBAC. Legally though, no one can cut you open without consent. (Unless maybe you are unconscious?) I truly was not trying to be radical or unreasonable. i just wanted to try to birth my baby vaginally. I did not want major surgery for no really good reason.

I prepared for this upcoming birth by taking Hypnobirthing classes and reading my friend’s Bradley Method Childbirth information and doing some of the exercise. I also followed the exercises and sitting and sleeping recomendations for optimal fetal positioning I found on I meditated with the Hypnobirthing CDs and a VBAC CD by Maggie Howell almost every day. I hired a doula and called her whenever I had a discouraging appointment (often). I talked to 3 successful VBAC friends.

At almost about 37 weeks my midwife said I was 3 cm dilated and very thin. This was around Jan 18th I think.

So, by January 20 i was in a really FOUL mood, and sick of my stupid gestational diabetes diet. On the 21st I took my just turned 2 yr old daughter to the zoo in the morning. At about 7 pm she threw a whole bunch of crayons on the floor. When I bent over to pick them up I heard a “Pop” and felt water, just a little bit, trickle into my undies. Oh god, I thought, was that my water breaking?

Yes, it was. I was not having regular contractions though. I fooled around doing dishes for awhile as I somewhat freaked out. I called my mom and dad to come watch my daughter. Then I took a shower, and my daughter took a shower with me. I decided to dry my hair, which is very out of character for me, but it gave me something to focus on. My parents arrived around 10pm and we got my daughter to bed. i made sure everything was ready in my bag and went to bed around 11pm with irregular contractions. I may have slept a little but not much. I moved around trying to get comfortable. Around 3 am I was on my hands and knees to get through a contraction. My husband suggested going to the hospital but I didn’t want to go yet. He was getting a bit anxious, and we left for the hospital around 4:30 to beat morning traffic. My husband called the doula. I listened to my hypnobirthing stuff on my ipod in the car. I still did not feel it was time to go to the hospital and told my husband that if I was less than 5 cm I would not stay. The whole hospital thing was kind of scaring me. We got there and I stopped to sit on the exercise ball a couple times on the way up. My contractions were still not regular, but seemed a little stronger. I was in a good mood.

The midwife was at the nurses station when we walked in. She smiled and asked what was going on. I told them my water broke around midnight because I felt I had to buy some time. I had heard that they will not let you go more than 24 hours after your water breaks and I was afraid I was at the hospital too soon. She asked me my pain and I stubbornly said 1 on a scale of 1-10 because I was determined that my pain level would not be higher than a 2. She checked me and exclaimed “Girl, you are 7 cm! maybe 8!” Wow, I was so excited. maybe this was going to work. The midwife and nurse were excited too and kept telling people that there was a woman in natural labor dilated to 8 cm who was only a 1 for pain. That made me feel proud and was encouraging. My doula arrived and she and my husband took turns applying pressure to my lower back, the sacrum, with every contraction. I was quiet, and would say “Push please” for pressure whenever I felt a contraction starting. The pressure really helped. I listened to my Hypnobirthing stuff and VBAC Maggie Howell stuff on the Ipod. I mostly stayed in a kneeling position with my arms and head leaning on the top of the raised part of the bed. The labor and delivery nurse was great. She helped me achieve the best position possible by moving my legs apart a bit. I started to growl. I had always heard it was important to make Low noises during birthing. I got really hot and tangled up in my gown and took it off, which is quite out of character for me. I felt more comfortable in my sports bra. I tried standing for a few contractions around 7 am. Then I was on my back for a few contractions while the doula and husband held my legs. That gave me a little rest, but I didn’t want to stay that way because I knew that was not using gravity to my advantage.

Now, in Hypnobirthing you are not encouraged to push. Your uterus will push the baby out for you. But oh my legs were getting so tired. So around 9:30 am I decided to push. I used the squat bar and the baby moved down a lot. I almost started to scream high, but my doula reminded me to stay low with my voice. I did, and it really helped. I was getting tired and tried lying on my side some. Not so good for descent, but again, gave me a chance to rest.

I starting squatting with pushes and lying down in between. This was working. I felt a hot splash and yelled “What the hell was that?” It was my forebag of waters breaking. Oh, I never knew about that! I was getting scared. I had been pushing for awhile and no baby was coming out. Was I going to have the same problems I had with my first birth?

No! The baby was in a good position. Still I was starting to freak out and I yelled at people “I’m not doing this right! You have to help me.

Tell me what to do.” They all reassured me that the baby was moving down and it was going to come out. The midwife said “Babies come a little bit at a time.” I was very doubtful at this point, and scared.
Finally, I felt burning. It felt GREAT! Yes! The baby really was going to come out! I was finally convinced that I knew what I was doing and that this baby would be born vaginally. At 10:31 there was crowning and the head came out. At 10:32 my husband actually caught the baby.

It was immediately placed on my chest, just where I wanted my baby to be. I announced “It’s a boy!” I was so so so so happy to be able to hold my little warm wet baby. I got to hold him right away! This was the best part. I got to hold him for a long time. Over an hour. He had his first latch on at 11:30 am. I felt so happy and proud.

If you are considering a VBAC, I say go for it. It was the most empowering thing I have ever done. Learn a lot, find lots of support, and be determined.

It is so worth it.

When my son was 6 days old I walked a mile to the playground with him in the sling and my daughter in the stoller. Recovery was a breeze.