Talyah “Tali” Hilmer

The birth of my daughter started out as a quest to just have options. I wanted a doctor who would let me try to have a vaginal birth after my cesarean, if it was possible. Of course, I would use adequate pain relief like an epidural. No need to be in horrible pain if it wasn’t necessary. After all, I wasn’t trying to be a hero, just give birth. I didn’t have faith in my body to be able to give birth after I had my son. It looked likely that I had something called CPD (basically my pelvis was too small). I’ve always been super skinny, so maybe my insides were, too. However, I hated every moment of my c-section. From the time I was cut open; I was angry. Children weren’t supposed to be born this way. I wasn’t in an emergency situation. My son was born gorgeous. I was told this was because we were lucky to have the technology nowadays to “save my life” and the “baby’s life.” I couldn’t let go of the fact that I carried my first pregnancy so well and felt great. When the doctors gave me a guilt trip so I would have an induction at 41 weeks, I often wondered, how did I start off being a healthy, glowing pregnant woman and go into being “an emergency” just because “my fluid was too low?”

Just after moving to Palm Harbor last year, I met a friend who I knew was lead to me for many reasons. She was pregnant at the time and wanted a second VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). She ended up doing a home birth. I thought she was strong and crazy at the same time. Home births are so dangerous, so I thought. My husband and I talked through the options. We decided a hospital birth was the only way to go. After all, I was probably too thin, the baby could likely get stuck and nothing is worth losing this precious miracle. Also, I heard your uterus could rupture! Scary stuff. My friend referred me to a doctor who oversees a lot of the midwives, Dr. Dinsmore. My friend really liked her. I made an appointment. To determine the due date, Dr. Dinsmore did an ultrasound and was very encouraging. She was very pro-VBAC and positive. I really loved her and her staff and soon felt more confidence that I COULD have a VBAC. Her staff encouraged me to do a lot of research. I did. In the meantime, I found a local chapter of ICAN and a supportive mom’s group. Women from both groups were encouraging and informative. I couldn’t believe what I was learning. Through tons of research I discovered how rare uterine rupture was. After all, any birth can have complications. I realized this CPD everyone talked about was often a way to say “we don’t know what went wrong”, and it was also not that common. My hopes for a vaginal birth soared. Through coaching from numerous friends and ICAN members, I became more confident. My quest through time became more than a desire to “try and have a vaginal birth” – it became a fight for women’s rights. I became so angry that Dr. Dinsmore is one of the only doctors in a huge city like Tampa that will “allow you to try a VBAC.” After all, each pregnancy is different. Why should you automatically be cut open just because you were once cut open? In a “free” country, when did we, as women, just hand over the rights to our bodies to the medical community? Who voted for them to be able to “force” us into surgery? Oh, yeah, they will tell you that nobody will “force you”, but when you can’t find a doctor who will let you try to give birth vaginally or if you go into a hospital and the staff will tell you that if you don’t sign the papers to have a c-section, they will get a court order to take custody of your unborn child (this probably doesn’t happen often, but I’ve personally heard of three cases), what do you call that?

I had so many blessings throughout my pregnancy like the other supportive moms, my encouraging friend, and a great doctor. I felt further encouraged through the other people God put in my life; the doula I received, my wonderful hypnobirthing instructor and fellow classmate and several Bradley class teachers who offered to share their knowledge. Everyone gave so freely and with such optimism. I was pumped! God was blessing me beyond my hopes. I wanted to do this soooo badly now! I was doing it for all c-sectioned women!

At 36 weeks pregnant, Dr. Dinsmore shared with me that due to some legal issues, she might not be able to deliver my baby. I was crushed! Oh no! After all these blessings and all this work. Where would I go? I was stressed. I made a lot of phone calls and discovered I was down to two real options; a practice of doctors an hour away from my home with a group of doctors I didn’t know or a midwife. My husband and I struggled. Me? Give birth at home? Was I crazy? I was told I could very well be too thin, I have severe asthma, I’m an older mom, and I’m a VBAC; how could I do a 360 and go the complete opposite direction and deliver without a hospital? How risky. My husband looked at me and said he didn’t think I could do it. After all, there would be no epidural. It’ll have to be all natural, That scared me, too. I’m the wimp that still cringes when she gets shots! How could I go natural? Yet, I couldn’t let go of my desire to give birth the way God intended me to. My husband and I agreed that we thought if I went to the hospital, I’d probably end up in another c-section. So home birth it was. Enter our midwife, Jill. When I met Jill, I really liked her and she was “real” with me. She wasn’t going to tell me what I wanted to hear. We were both concerned that Dr. Dinsmore expressed her concern about my asthma. This is where I was strong. I knew my asthma very well throughout the pregnancy and birth of my son. I knew how it would be. I knew a hospital staff was never able to have my asthma in control for any length of time. So, I “sold” myself despite being an older woman, a first time VBAC and an asthmatic. Against the advice of others, I was going for the home birth. I was comforted by all the encouraging people God put in my life, all the knowledge I gained, hiring “the VBAC Queen” as my midwife (as Jill is known) and by my faith in God.

Dr. Dinsmore’s staff checked me at 37.5 weeks and I was 3cm dilated and 70% effaced! I don’t like checks, but I was so encouraged by this! I never dilated on my own before and I was 2 cm dilated last time when I got an epidural. I was already ahead of the game…Plus, Dr. Dinsmore gave me a big hug and her blessing as I left her office, which meant a lot to me. She understood my feelings and honored them, without thinking I was crazy.

Since I went late with my son, my husband I decided not to stop life, even around the due date. We decided to go visit some friends at a campsite for Sukkot an hour away. We drove up Friday, spent the evening with our friends and got a hotel for the night, The plan was to spend the whole day with them on Saturday, studying, fellow-shipping and taking our son to see the petting farm. When we went to bed that night (maybe around 10:00pm), I felt strong Braxton Hicks contractions. They weren’t that painful, though and I casually made the comment to my husband that I might go into labor in a few days. He grunted and went back to sleep (later he told me he didn’t remember this). I was up most of the night since my 17 month old son was cuddling next to me and slowly pushing me off the edge of the bed. Around 6:00am I awoke to find my son totally cuddling in my arms. What a great moment since I don’t get many of those since he became a busy little toddler. Just then I felt some contractions. Hum…They were strong enough I needed to walk around. I quickly tried to ignore them because I was anxious to cuddle again. I got into bed, got comfy and had another contraction. I walked some and noticed they were coming every 5-6 minutes. My husband asked if he could sleep more and I said we better go. I wanted to be home for the labor. We had a quick breakfast before we left (I didn’t want to labor on an empty stomach). I just remember how hard it was to sit still as my husband grabbed a second cup of coffee and we checked out. However, the pain wasn’t bad. I just didn’t want to look “in labor” to anyone. We drove an hour home and I called my birth team. My friend told me to prepare for another 14-15 hours of labor. My doula had a funeral that day in Sarasota and I urged her to go because this could be a long day. I was talking through contractions, my husband said I looked good and my son was saying “yes” ‘yes” “yes” in the backseat for the first time. First cuddling, now “yes” instead of “no” in the backseat…Everyone was feeling good.

We walked in our apartment and instantly the contractions got stronger. We had a lot to do! I asked my husband not to delay and make the bed. I got our my bathing suit to labor in and tried to get little things done, but the contractions kept coming. My husband begged me to contact the birth team. I refused. After all, I was only in labor for about 2 hours at this point. I didn’t want to be a wimp. I was going to be tough! I was just so annoyed by the fast contractions. I had things to do! I had to call my friend to take my son, get more things out, get my hynobirthing CD, etc. etc. However, those darn contractions were messing up my plan! Soon, things went so fast. My husband told me firmly to call the birth team. I refused again. Thank goodness for Jill. She had sense enough to leave me a message and check up on me. She didn’t ask to come over, she said she was coming over to check me. Now I felt ready to call my doula. Things went so quickly from there! We put our son in his crib, filled the tub and my doula walked in. I had 2-3 more contractions, decided I hated the tub and got out. Jill came in and didn’t even bother to mention the word dilation. She just told me the baby’s head was at a plus 3 station and right there, ready some out. Wow! That’s when it hit me, I am going to do this! I went on the bed and Jill asked if I wanted to push. I first said no then I said OK (because I just felt the need). I decided to lean on Tim and squat. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was do-able and I talked between pushes. The doula was there, reminding me how to push and putting oils on my back. It’s what I needed. Jill placed her finger where I needed to focus my pushes, which also helped greatly. I did this for what seemed like forever (it was actually less than an hour) and then I was encouraged to push on the toilet. This helped and I soon felt the baby almost crowning. My friend walked in around this time to cheer me on. The timing was perfect because she soon validated my feelings; she said “this is the worst part.” I agreed. It wasn’t that painful…it just felt weird. I pushed and had to slide my bottom off the toilet since I thought the baby might drop in. I was asked where I wanted to deliver and I said the bed, but Tali had other ideas. I had to push while walking and out she came.

tali1After all the excitement wore down, I became elated. I did it! It wasn’t horribly painful like some women said thanks to the circumstances and the grace God gave me. I had a great, fast VBAC when doctors would say it’s too risky and I needed surgery. Here I was; happy, energetic, surgery and drug-free with a healthy, beautiful child. Why shouldn’t it have happened? Does my birth story look like I am broken and I am not capable of giving birth without surgery? Sad to think if I didn’t have all the support in my life, I would have been an automatic surgery patient. I’m so thankful for all my blessings, including my new beautiful blessing named Talyah Shavat.