With all of the negative stories about hospital births out there, I wanted to provide a positive story for the world to enjoy. After having a c-section with Farmboy, I was determined to have Cowgirl via VBAC. My story isn’t all bubbles and roses; childbirth is difficult, painful, messy and traumatic. It can be extremely stressful, but it can also be glorious. Even with all of the sweat and tears, it is beautiful. And it is true, you will forget all of the pain and fear when it’s all said and done.
Now, a little back story. Farmboy’s birth was less than ideal. The pregnancy itself was completely routine, no complications and no reason to think that there would be any during delivery. Maybe that’s why I didn’t do more research. I didn’t shop around for hospitals or OBs. I didn’t consider cesarean section rates. I didn’t realize some “routine” procedures could increase my chances of needing a c-section. After all, everything looked on track for a normal, routine delivery.
Then, Farmboy went a week over his due date. I wasn’t making much progress. Plus, we live an hour from the hospital, so there was concern that I wouldn’t make it there in time. So, I was pressured (mostly by family) to schedule an induction. It sounded simple enough, and I liked the idea of not being surprised by labor contractions at 3 am. Well, as part of the induction, my bag of waters was broken to help progress labor. I didn’t realize that action could also increase the chances of the cord being pinched and baby going into distress. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened, and Farmboy was delivered via c-section at 5:30 pm.
My OB knew that I had really wanted a vaginal delivery, so he told me about Vaginal Birth After a C-Section (VBAC). However, he also told me that the hospital I had delivered at would not allow me to have a VBAC next time. I’d have to find a new hospital and a new OB.
So that’s when my education about VBACs began. I loved that I still had the option for a vaginal delivery. I am not a person who readily accepts “No” as an answer, and I certainly didn’t want to resign myself to having c-sections for the rest of my kids. First of all, I hate recovering from abdominal surgeries. I really hate needing someone to help me go to the bathroom. I also struggled with hormonal imbalances after having my son, which I believe were at least partially because of the c-section. And lastly, I firmly believe in trying my absolute best to do things the way God intended, in other words the natural way, even though I also strongly believe in the use of pain killers. And God made women to deliver vaginally, so by God, I was going to do everything possible to have my daughter vaginally.
I learned that the risk of complications from VBACs are actually very low. The problem is that because there is even a slight risk of uterine rupture, most doctors (and more specifically their malpractice insurance) do not want to touch VBACs. Plus, the woman has to be monitored through the entire labor (at least while they’re in the hospital) and most OBs simply don’t have that kind of manpower. Of course, if there is even the slightest chance of a complication, even VBAC friendly doctors want to do a repeat c-section.
I had begun my quest to find VBAC friendly doctors and hospitals before I was even pregnant with my daughter. I had at least found a hospital before I had my miscarriage in 2012. As it turns out, only one hospital in the Tampa area, Tampa General Hospital, will allow VBACs. However, when I got pregnant with Cowgirl, I still had not found a doctor who would take my insurance and do a VBAC. Let me tell you, I really hate shopping around for doctors. For the first couple months, I was driving almost 2 hours away to visit the doctor who had delivered Farmboy (his office had moved in the last 4 years). I knew he wouldn’t perform a VBAC, but he was someone I knew and trusted at least until I could find a different doctor. What I finally found was a midwife group at Tampa General, Women’s Health Care. They were great through all of my prenatal care and agreed that I looked like a great candidate for a VBAC.
Once again, I had a fairly normal pregnancy. The only thing that wasn’t normal was the amount of stress I felt this time around. Cowgirl was my rainbow baby, my baby after a miscarriage. I was paranoid that something would go wrong for the entire pregnancy. And it didn’t get any better the closer we got to my due date. As we passed the due date, I started to feel like my body was betraying me again. Why couldn’t I just go into labor like a normal woman? I was trying everything my midwives suggested to induce labor, plus a few old wives tales I had heard, but nothing was working. My cervix was slowly progressing, but I still wasn’t having regular contractions. I was at my wits’ end.
That last week was probably the hardest. I was seeing the midwives every few days. One midwife suggested scheduling a c-section, which just made me angry. I had done too much research, spent too many hours learning about hospitals, risk factors and finding care providers to be denied a vaginal birth now just because my body wouldn’t cooperate. Before I completely blew my top, she scheduled me for a stress test on Friday. That would determine how the baby and I were handling the pregnancy, plus give us an estimate of the baby’s size.
For the most part, the stress test went great. Our vitals and heart rates were within normal limits. The concern was with Cowgirl’s size, the ultrasound was estimating her at 9 lb 6 oz. Now, I’m not a doctor or ultrasound tech, but I know that measurements taken on a baby that’s rolled into a ball and stuffed into a very cramped space are going to be iffy at best. There’s a reason they call it an estimate. And they did agree with me that there was a wide margin of error when it comes to these estimates. The problem was that if she got much bigger, they weren’t going to let me try to deliver her vaginally. They were worried she’d get stuck in the birth canal. I just knew two things: I had serious doubts that I was carrying a 9 lb baby, and God gave me these hips for a reason. I had gained five pounds less weight this pregnancy than I did with Farmboy. He was a week overdue and 7 lb 14 oz. Would this baby really weigh that much more at two weeks overdue?