Oh Baby It's a Wild World! The story of our accidental unassisted HBAC, Emery Everdeen, born 12/4/20

We love when our doula clients share their birth stories, and today's was written by Sarah, mom of two beautiful girls. Join us as she takes us on her journey to her well-planned VBAC, but not only her VBAC but an HBAC (home birth after cesarean) which ended up being unassisted as well. Special thanks to Mindful Birth Doula Tara, who also unexpectedly served as Birth Assistant to the midwife on speaker phone! Let's begin this wild ride of a birth story. Enjoy.

Emery Everdeen, our accidental unassisted HBAC

"Early on, I knew that I wanted a different kind of birth experience than I’d had with my first – she was a birth center transfer that turned into an unexpected cesarean. I started researching my options for birth support, and found a home birth VBAC supportive midwife, found a wonderful doula (Yay TARA!!), and checked in with my mental health counselor to prep for any feelings that could pop up related to prior birth trauma. I started chiropractic care, signed up for the Birthing from Within class, and listened to any vbac podcasts I could get my hands on. I’m so grateful for each of these resources, as they ended up being exactly what I needed.

During pregnancy, we dealt with several issues that seemed to be a rollercoaster of emotion. Would I be able to continue with a home birth? Would my baby be ok? Would this new situation require me to transfer to hospital care? Thanks to the support of both my doula and counselor, I was able to work through these issues as they came up. We talked through the things that scared me most, and Tara helped me create a realistic plan (like packing a “just in case” bag) in the event of a hospital transfer.

I started having contractions on November 30th, and thanks to all the hard work I’d done to get ready, I felt as prepared as I could possibly be. I spent the evening doing some deep breathing and bouncing on my yoga ball. Contractions remained pretty steady through the evening, but by morning things had fizzled out almost completely. My midwife had suggested acupuncture, so I set up another appointment for later that day.

Despite my best efforts to keep contractions going, baby was just not ready. From Tuesday until Thursday, nothing happened. Thursday night I thought I’d felt my water leak, but I wasn’t sure. Tara gave some encouragement and a reminder to get some rest, and I decided to just follow up with the midwife at my appointment the next morning. At my appointment, I was given some instructions on how to check for amniotic fluid in case of a further leak, and we did one last check for positioning; baby had been sitting sunny side up for weeks. We talked about doing a lift and tuck as much as possible, especially during contractions.

That night around 7 I felt another small gush of fluid and when I checked, it WAS amniotic fluid! I tried to stay calm as I called my midwife for further instructions and gave my husband an update. To keep my chances of a VBAC as high as possible, we wanted to see labor get started within the next 12-14 hours. My midwife suggested a ‘midwife brew’ to help things along since my waters had already broken, so I took some and headed to bed. I was bracing myself for another 30-hour labor like I’d had with my first, and wanted to be as rested as possible.

Around midnight, I woke up to a contraction. It was definitely stronger than what I’d felt earlier in the week, so I was excited. I decided to try to empty my bladder and get back to sleep. I adjusted my pillows to give a bit of counter pressure on my back, turned on my heating pad, and drifted off.

I woke up again around 2am to another strong contraction. This time, I felt a strong pop like I’d been kicked in the cervix, and an immediate gush – my water had DEFINITELY broken this time. As I made my way to the bathroom, I remembered the lift and tuck I’d discussed with my midwife. As painful as it was, I knew that this would be crucial for getting baby into the right position. It took about 5-6 contractions, but I felt the moment baby shifted over my pelvis and into place. After that, things picked up significantly.

Within the next few contractions (maybe around 3:30 am) I was on my knees vocalizing through each surge. I woke up my husband, Matt, and asked him to call Tara. Smart man that he is, he called the midwife as well. While waiting for our team to arrive, he tried to get things set up while assisting me with counter pressure as I knelt on all fours in our very narrow bathroom. I remember him telling me I needed to come into the bedroom – my rational mind knew that that would be the best place for me to go, but it was SO difficult to want to move in that moment. Somehow, with his coaching, I was able to crawl out and onto the waiting towels by the foot of our bed.

"I woke up again around 2am to another strong contraction. This time, I felt a strong pop like I’d been kicked in the cervix, and an immediate gush – my water had DEFINITELY broken this time."

Tara arrived shortly after, and started to help get the birth pool set up. She and Matt alternated doing counter pressure to help with the contractions while the pool filled. Before it was even halfway full, I was feeling some intense