Many know that I am passionate about VBAC and many know that I had a VBAC so I thought I would share my VBAC story. Following on from my last birth I started the contraception conversation with my hubby when my little boy was 6 months old. I was 2 months too late and after some nausea, becoming sore when breastfeeding and feeling overwhelmingly tired I did a pregnancy test. My hubby happened to call me whilst he was driving the cableway at Scenic World as the result was appearing on the stick, I gave him the news and he got a massive cheer from all on board!
I was extremely apprehensive, this would make only 14 months between births and I didn’t know what this meant in relation to VBAC. Before I made any announcements I buried my head in books and research papers to find out and after absorbing all the numbers I emerged and announced sadly to my husband that the time gap is too short, my uterine rupture rate is 2.7%. In his purely practical manner he switched that to a 97.3% chance of no uterine rupture and stated that it is far more dangerous to get in a car and drive to the hospital! That was enough to be convinced and I put away the research and planned my HBAC.
After my previous experience and again the lack of available homebirth midwives at the time I decided to hire a doula and utilise a good friend who was a midwife as my birth team. I avoided all antenatal care which was interesting as I was still working part time at a local hospital that does not support VBAC and the pregnancy flew by as a busy working mum with a one year old and my 3 older bonus kids in primary school. I did have a terrible time with back and SPD pain that I now know is due to having Ankylosing Spondylitis but that wasn’t known at the time.
Going at 37 weeks last time made me more prepared this time and I was able to get a belly cast and be all prepared by 37 weeks. I also had not been unwell with pneumonia this time and this little girl was head down, much less stressful!
During that 37th week I went walking crazy, I had my bub strapped to my back and I was out walking once or twice a day. I couldn’t help myself but go and walk! I had a hind water leak in the early hours of a Saturday morning and tightening’s were painful but irregular all weekend. I was getting exhausted and cranky and my birth team was in and out and left Sunday night. Monday morning and the tightening’s started up again, a self VE found I was only 1cm dilated. My birth team was now all elsewhere and I decided I didn’t want to freebirth with my hubby so I went in to a local tertiary hospital. I wasn’t prepared for the fight that ensued. The good news was that the contractions were picking up and that a VE found I was already 4-5cm with bulging membranes that they ruptured. The bad news was all the stuff they wanted me to consent to such as the epidural to get me ready for theatres, IV therapy, CTG, caesarean. I felt I was swamped but I somehow kept strong and declined the caesarean and the epidural. I was left alone for long periods thank goodness and as I knew the CTG machine I would pause and remove it so I could have a shower or walk around. When the registrar doctor came in she would tell me I was either too loud or too quiet and should go for a caesarean. I would glare at her and she would scurry out of the room. One time she came in and stated that if I didn’t have an epidural I would be one of those women that sucked that baby back up rather than push it out!!! I looked at her confused, not able to speak due to being in labour land but able to think, WTF is she talking about? She scurried out and my hubby chuckled, stating that if looks could kill she would be dead on the floor! I was told I was nil by mouth but the tempting purple wrapper of a chocolate bar was sticking up out of my bag teasing me so I ordered hubby to pass it to me and that he was to tell no-one! I devoured one half and said I would have the rest after I have pushed this baby out so don’t you dare touch it!
Throughout the day I was threatened with going to theatre at 4pm. I didn’t think I was clock watching but by 3.40pm I was on the birthing stool pushing. The Doctor wanted to check that I was fully dilated, not believing the midwife that had checked me on the stool and a team of midwives was trying to pick me up. Hubby was wise, he sat behind me and held me down and then I had to swear at them to announce I would not move. With the expletives came view of a head and the Doctor walked out of the room. The sensation was crazy, painful but crazy. She was birthed on the birthing stool and onto my chest at 4pm. My first words were “I did it!” over and over. I couldn’t believe the negativity and intimidation I had to put up with but I did it!
The high has never left me and I wondered if I was the only one to feel it. That led me to my Masters thesis. Having a VBAC was amazing. The birth could have been better without the battle but I also learnt so much from it. I felt all the fear from the staff and did it anyway. I believed in myself. I called on a colleague friend to assist me and she appeared whilst I was in transition. I needed her so I could say all my fears, she believed in me and that got me through. So there you are, one VBAC journey, but it is the one that has inspired me to spread the word about VBAC and respectful care in maternity.