My first son was born via an emergency c-section after 54 straight hours of prodromal labor and six hours of active labor.
He was posterior facing (or sunny-side-up), his head was stuck in my pelvis, I was stalled at 5cm dilation for hours, he had pooped in the womb, and his heart rate was tachycardic. I also developed an infection three weeks postpartum, which set back recovery even further.
Although I was thankful that my son was delivered safely and healthily, this was not the birth plan I had envisioned. Therefore, when I found out I was pregnant with my second son last February, I instantly knew I wanted to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean section).
I threw myself into researching everything VBAC-related not long after that beautiful positive pregnancy test.
I joined VBAC support groups on Facebook, followed VBAC-related Instagram accounts, bought a few books on natural childbirth, and tried to learn everything I could about the subject. Thankfully, I had a very supportive doctor who respected and encouraged my desire to attempt a VBAC. I was also fortunate enough to have the guidance and support of two highly respected obstetricians. One who is new to my small town and one 45-minutes away in the nearest city who delivered my first son.
Although I was aware there was still a roughly 35% chance that I would need a repeat c-section, I felt as mentally prepared for a VBAC as I possibly could.
At a prenatal checkup with my doctor at 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant, I decided to get a membrane sweep done to help move things along. As I did not have one with my first son, I figured I should give it a try to see if it would help. My doctor informed me that my cervix was still closed and high, so high in fact, that she could barely perform the sweep. Based on her professional experience, she did not think I would go into labor on my own within the next week. This thought was also shared by the local OB a few days later.
We decided to schedule an elective repeat cesarean section for November 5th, when I would be 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Had I gone into labor on my own before the 5th, I would still attempt a VBAC.
November 5th came, and still no sign of the baby coming on his own. He was born via c-section in the middle of the afternoon. Despite a scare with my heart rate after the spinal was performed, everything went perfectly, and he was born healthily.
Although I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to experience a vaginal delivery and had to go through another c-section recovery, I was just happy that my second baby was here and he was healthy. Most people share my sentiments on this, but a select few share their differing opinions with me.
You didn’t need to get the c-section when you did.
Many women have successful VBACs after 41 weeks.
Your cervix and baby’s position could have changed at any time, so you could’ve waited.
These points are certainly valid, as I learned while doing VBAC research. However, I chose to trust the advice of my doctor and obstetrician, both of whom have been delivering babies for years. I also didn’t feel comfortable waiting until after 41 weeks to attempt a VBAC due to the increased risk of uterine rupture, and the fact that the chances of a successful VBAC were significantly reduced after 40 weeks gestation.
One of the most frustrating aspects of having had two c-sections is the feeling that I need to validate my experiences and prove that my c-sections were necessary.
Regarding my first son, I have been told that I wasn’t in real labor for 54 hours and that I probably stalled at 5cm due to stress and too frequent cervical exams. Over the years, I became accustomed to silently nod, smiling, and listening when other women are excitedly sharing their birth stories because I haven’t always felt worthy of sharing mine.
However, my youngest son’s birth brought me a sense of peace, worthiness, and acceptance about how both of my births went. Yes, a VBAC would have been wonderful to experience, and I will always advocate for women to attempt a VBAC if that is what their hearts are telling them to do. It wasn’t on the cards for me, and that is okay.
I struggled with infertility for over four years, had two miscarriages, and underwent an IUI to get pregnant with my youngest. At the end of the day, I am a mom to two healthy boys, and that is all I’ve ever wanted. No matter how a baby was brought into this world, birth is birth, and the end goal is parenthood. I am thankful to my body and modern medicine for helping to make that dream a reality.