Caroline Leigh

born August 29, 2009 at home, told by Melanie:

I told myself early on in my pregnancy that I would not be able to forgive myself if I didn’t at least attempt to have a VBAC and am so glad that I did!!!!!

I continued to see the OB’s at the USF Physicians Group since they are one of the only groups in the area that will allow for a VBAC but from the first appointment they discouraged me and constantly reminded me of the risks of uterine rupture. I began educating myself and eventually found myself asking them questions that they couldn’t answer. It felt great. But in the back of my mind I was still second guessing myself and terrified that maybe they were right. The big factors that they reminded me of were that my previous c-section was not more than 18 months ago and that I only had a single layer stitch on my uterus. I did lots of internet research and began attending ICAN meetings. I then was fortunate enough to get into a Bradley Method Childbirth Class. My husband and I were also obsessed with natural birth videos and I think we have seen just about every one out there. My confidence grew.

We finally decided to speak with a home birth midwife to satisfy our interests. We interviewed Jill Adams. We loved her and trusted her and never went back to the USF Physicians Group. She gave us amazing support and answered all of our questions. We couldn’t have been more satisfied. The weeks continued to pass and I again had a completely healthy pregnancy with no complications.

At 40 weeks and 4 days I awoke to contractions that were 15 minutes apart. I went back to sleep after each one. I was so excited but was not completely convinced that it was the real thing so my husband went to work in the morning as if everything was usual. He called each hour to check on me and the contractions continued. He got home at 3 pm and the contractions then began coming every 10 to 12 minutes. He told me that I should call the midwife and Melissa Taylor who was acting as our doula as well as my best friend who was going to film it all and take pictures. I was embarrassed that I would call everyone and that it wouldn’t really be labor. I called everyone anyways and they all arrived around 7 pm on Friday night. Our midwife checked me and I was only 3 cm dilated…..disappointment. I thought that everyone would leave but each of them stayed. I continued to have contractions about 8 minutes apart at that point. It was great to be surrounded by a birth team that I put together and invited because I trusted them and not by people who just happened to be there because it was their turn to be on shift. It was so personal and wonderful to be in the comfort of my own home.

caroline2My husband never left my side and helped me through each contraction. I found myself to enjoy laboring on the toilet and in the birthing tub the most. It became later and later and I was only dilated to about 5 cm by midnight. Progress was being made but it was slow. I was okay with it because it was all on my terms and happening naturally and everyone was patient. I finally dilated fully by about 9 am on Saturday morning. My water still hadn’t broken but I wanted it to happen naturally so with the direction of my midwife I pushed a few times and it happened. It sounds funny but I feel like I needed to have the control over every aspect of the birth since I had no control with my first birth experience. At 9:30 am I got into the tub to begin pushing. It seemed to last forever and I was exhausted but knew I had no choice but to go on.

caroline1My husband encouraged and supported me, our midwife and her assistant assured me that my baby and I were safe and everything was going well, our doula made sure I always had a drink, cool wash cloths and massaged my legs when they cramped and my best friend was there to document it all. It was one of the most positive experiences that I have ever had. Caroline finally arrived at 11:37 am with one big push. She was posterior which accounted for the extended time pushing and the tearing that I had was very minor with only 4 stitches. I remember thinking, “only 4 stitches…..much better than the c-section!!!” It was a perfect birth in my eyes and has helped me heal and recover mentally from the cesarean. Of course the cesarean will always be there but at least now I know that my body is not broken and the doctors don’t always know best. I would have another home birth in a minute!

(Note: see also Abigail & Annabelle for this mother’s cesarean story)