"My Rebirth Through Leo's Birth," a VBAC journey with doula support

Authored by: mom Natalie

Mindful Birth Doula: Tara

"The birth of my first son, Eli, via Caesarean-Section, in July of 2018 left me physically, mentally, and emotionally devastated. I had developed severe pre-eclampsia at 32 weeks, and he had to be delivered immediately. Because he was a preemie, he was immediately carried away to

the NICU after being removed from my body; and I actually did not even get to see him until two days later, when I was finally “allowed” to leave my hospital room to go to his.

Our journey then continued with a 5-week NICU stay before he was able to come home. The day I was discharged from the hospital and went home without my baby was, by far, the worst day of my life. Although I am grateful everyday that he had no serious health complications (he just needed extra time to continue to grow and learn to feed on his own), not a day goes by that I don’t feel some sense of sadness in how our story began. I have always felt like his birth was just something that happened to me, and that I was not a part of the experience at all. I still don’t feel like I brought my first-born into this world. And so, I have been dreaming of and working hard for a different kind of birth story since the day he was born – even as I was still laying there in my hospital bed.

So, after over two and a half years of dreaming, hoping, praying, researching, and preparing –

there we were…It was the day before my “estimated due date” with baby #2; and the day started

with a 7:30am OB appointment. I had some health concerns develop during this pregnancy

(intermittent high blood pressure readings and contracted COVID around 35 weeks), but nothing

as serious as my first pregnancy. My midwives had had me monitoring my own blood pressure at

home twice a day, and it was generally normal. But, at my appointment that day, it was high (as

it usually was at my appointments). The midwife agreed to give me a few minutes to relax

before trying to take it again, but also stated that they would be sending me over to the hospital

for an induction that day. Of course, my blood pressure did not go down after that conversation.

Needless to say, I was not happy to be induced. Instead of being excited that I was finally going

to meet my new baby, I could only focus on the fact that things were not going according to “my

plan” again.

I had the midwife do a cervical check, wanting to know if my body was showing any signs of

being “ready” for the vaginal birth that I so desperately wanted. There was slight improvement

from the week before, but I was still only 1-2cm dilated and 40% effaced. The doctor said the

induction was not emergent, so Pete and I decided to go home, finish packing things up, eat, take

a shower, and relax for a few minutes.

As we were wandering around the house that morning putting our last minute things together for

the dreaded hospital trip, all I kept thinking was, “I wish I had given Eli an extra hug this

morning…if I had only known that was going to be the last day that he was my only baby, I

would have held on a little bit longer…” My heart felt heavy.

I ended up contacting my chiropractor to let her know I was going in for an induction and she

was able to squeeze me in for one last adjustment on our way to the hospital. I was filled with

emotion and stress about what was impending, but she really helped fix my headspace. She let

me know that my baby was in great position and that my body was ready for this. She helped lift

my spirits and reminded me that a successful labor was all about my mindset at this point. So, I

started working on getting my head right.

We got to the hospital a little before 1:00pm and got admitted into our room pretty quickly. It

was a while before the midwife on call came in and discussed our induction options with me. I

felt strong and prepared in the sense that I asked questions and made suggestions about my own

medical care (something that did NOT happen during my first birth experience). Initially, the

midwife said we would just be starting the induction with Pitocin because I was not dilated

enough/my cervix was too posterior for her to get a foley bulb in. So, the Pitocin was started

around 3:45pm. A few minutes later, the OB that was on call came in and said she would try to

place the foley bulb for me, if I would like. I agreed and she was a Rockstar at getting it placed.

She even mentioned that she filled it a bit larger than normal, to help move things along.

Everyone was very supportive of my VBAC and had total faith that this was going to happen.

After that, the nurses and doctors left the room and left Pete and I alone to labor as we wanted.

They did periodically come in to fix the monitors and brought me a birthing ball to labor on. I

tried to stay upright as much as possible. I knew I wanted to use gravity to my advantage. I

alternated between bouncing on the birth ball, rocking in the rocking chair, standing, swaying,

and walking in the limited capacity that I could (being hooked up to wires and IVs).

I started to feel what I thought were contractions fairly quickly. I had never felt a contraction

before (other than Braxton Hicks contractions), so I could only assume that this was them. They

were not overwhelming at first, but definitely noticeable. Before I knew it, it felt like they were

just one right after the other with no real break in between and they were increasing in intensity.

I remember one of the nurses making a comment that these were not “real” contractions. I’m still

not sure what she meant by that, but it got me concerned about what I was in store for if these

were not even the “real deal.” I tried to put that thought out of my mind and just focused on the

fact that my body was clearly responding to the induction and that this was going to work.

At one point, I went to use the bathroom and the foley bulb actually fell out into the toilet as I

was peeing. It startled me and I cried out for Pete. The nurse checked me afterwards and said I

was 4-5cm dilated. I was excited because my body had made progress, and the foley bulb had

done its job.

My contractions changed after the foley bulb fell out and I realized it was that bulb that had been

really irritating me. The contractions slowed down and seemed to decrease in intensity for a

while. So, the nurse started cranking up the Pitocin to keep them going. The midwife came in

and said we would stay on this path for a few more hours to see if I would continue to make

progress, and if I wasn’t then we would talk about turning the Pitocin off for the night to allow

me to get some rest.

Again, Pete and I were left alone to labor as we wanted. It was into the night at this point. Our

room was dark, we had music playing, we moved around as much as possible. We tried some

spinning babies moves like the abdominal lift and the side lying release, but nothing was

comfortable and I wasn’t sure that we were doing anything quite right.

The contractions started to pick up again, and the nurse checked me to find that I was still only

about 6cm dilated. It had been a few hours since my last cervical check, and I had felt like I was

doing good work. The contractions had picked up and were not easy to manage at that point. So,

when she said I had only dilated 1cm in all that time, I started to feel defeated. I had been in