Why I Chose a VBAC :: Brooke

Brooke's Birth

What was the reason for your initial Cesarean birth?
This one is a little touchy for me.  My surgical reports say CPD (Cephalopelvic Disproportion) and failure to descend.  However, I truly believe I was cheated on my experience.  I was induced and I believe my body and baby just weren't ready yet.  I was uneducated and too trusting of my then care provider.  My previous OB kept pushing my due date up saying baby's growth was ahead and I didn’t think anything of it.  Towards the end of my pregnancy he kept talking induction and I kept saying I wanted to wait and let my body do its thing.  At one of my last appointments he said, "If you don’t induce by Friday, I’ll be upset," and used several scare tactics.  Note here that I had a perfectly healthy, textbook pregnancy.  So, in I went that Friday.  (Thankfully I woke up that Friday with very sporadic contractions, which gives me the tiniest peace about my son's birthday).  I was extremely scared of Pitocin, so asked for my water to be broken instead (*hitting face with palm!*).  My labor was pretty textbook.  I walked in at 3cm, water broken at 7am.  I wanted to go without drugs but had horrific back labor and got the epidural around 10am when I was 5-6cm.  I was complete by noon and was told to start pushing with each contraction.  Of course I couldn’t feel anything, so I was just pushing-- who knows how effectively.  I was on my back and continued this for two hours.  Nobody told me to roll to my side, etc.  My baby got to crowning and just wouldn’t budge.  My OB tried forceps and the vacuum, albeit very gently because I was scared of these, and I could feel my son almost coming out but just wouldn’t have it.  So, after 3 hours of pushing, the C-section was called.  The room fell.  At this point it was full of nurses and people waiting to take care of a baby about to be born!  I didn’t know what to do.  I just felt as if my body failed and I wasn’t built to have babies.  Throughout the whole pregnancy and birth I didn’t feel as if I had a choice or voice, so I just did whatever my doctor said.

Why did you choose a VBAC?
This was really easy for me.  I chose a VBAC because I felt that giving birth is what my body was made to do and my first attempt at delivering was a 'failure.'  I wanted my second shot at it.  The thought of rupture was never a fear for me.

What were your fears and concerns (if any)?
My only fears in pursuing my VBAC was not getting it!  I wanted it so badly that fears of my body not cooperating were always lingering in the back of my head.  Mostly, fears that my baby would be malpositioned.  I guess that's not really related to a VBAC per se, but just labor in general.  However after my first birth and being told that baby was asynclitic and that it was my body's fault for it, I had a fear that my body wouldn't know what to do.  My son was breech/transverse up until around 34 weeks, so I was pretty nervous about this.  Once he flipped I tried to keep my stress levels down and just have confidence that things would progress positively.  It was definitely a mental battle at moments but I just tried to keep as positive as possible.
What was the biggest challenge during pregnancy and then during labor and birth?
Having the confidence to know my original provider wasn't supportive/truthful and seek out the proper OB. When I got pregnant the second time I was still with the same OB. At my initial appointment they said, "Your last delivery was at 39w3d."  My jaw dropped.  I mean, I knew what my original due date was, but somehow I believed all that talk about baby growing ahead of schedule and therefore needing an earlier due date.  But I was lied to, all that pushing forward was BS.  I was PISSED to say the least.  I felt so, so cheated at my first birth and immediately asked about VBAC.  I always saw the Physician’s Assistant and she said I could definitely go for it.  However,  after my 20 week ultrasound I began discussing a VBAC with my OB.  He pretty much said, no go.  He scared me with shoulder dystocia, that my pelvis was too small, that I would severely harm or kill my baby, that if I were his daughter he wouldn’t ‘let’ me have a VBAC.  Well, I had been researching VBACs, births, the female body, and I knew at this point that what he was saying wasn’t true.  I knew in my heart of hearts that I was going to get my VBAC, but at this point I wasn’t sure who I was going to get it with.  My husband and I left that appointment and after the tears dried, I began exploring my options.  

I had done a little provider research earlier in my pregnancy and had read about Dr. Cobb here and there.  I went home and started doing my due diligence.  I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Cobb and also with another local doctor that came recommended from a few friends.  My husband was scared to switch because of the scare my previous OB gave us.  However, after we met with Dr. Cobb, we just KNEW he was for us.  My husband knew I wasn’t crazy for wanting the VBAC, saw the truth in what I've been saying and I think felt relieved that we had a doctor on our side and that he wouldn’t have to be my spokesperson.  He felt completely railroaded during my first birth and was a little scared about how we’d be treated again.  A weight was off our shoulders after that. 

During labor and birth, my biggest challenge was continuing to have confidence in my body and also dealing with the pain/exhaustion since I was hell bent on going natural.  My contractions started in the afternoon and I distracted myself by having my final moments with my son.  We went to the park, had dinner and put him to bed.  Then things picked up and I labored through the night; so I was EXHAUSTED.  My team was amazing.  They all had faith in me and when I asked for something ‘to take the edge off’ they all just said ‘you’re doing it, you’re almost there, you’ve got it.' No one gave in and I had 100% support, even in the nursing staff.  Since I was so determined to go natural, everyone supported that, even when I was a whiny youknowwhat.  

While pushing, I wasn’t sure about my body and I didn’t know if I could have 100% confidence in it.  I was a scared my baby would get stuck again.  I think if I didn’t have such a supportive team, I would’ve been much more emotional about this.  Dr. Cobb just kept reassuring me that I was doing it, the baby was coming and to be patient, that my body was working.  My mom reiterated saying that the baby was further than my first ever got.  I feel so lucky to have had so many cheerleaders in the room!  Every single person was positive and supportive.  Without that I think I would’ve had a lot more emotional hurdles to jump.  They gave me confidence when I started to second guess myself.

How did you prepare for your VBAC?
Research research research!  Because of my previous birth and what I was told, in the back of my head I wanted to prove everyone else wrong and prove that I COULD give birth.  Give my baby all those added benefits, avoid major surgery and also bond with my child right away.  I did everything I could to align my body.  Yoga, swimming, Spinning Babies, chiropractor, and acupuncture.  My husband thought I was crazy.  My thoughts behind all of this preparation was if I ended up with another Cesarean, I wanted to know I did absolutely everything I could and not look back and say ‘what if I tried this?’  I became a VBAC and birth expert.  I knew it would be more beneficial to go natural and studied Hypnobabies to help with pain management.  I also had a very supportive family.  My husband was my coach, as was my mother and younger sister.  They all got familiar with my plan and made sure they knew what I wanted.

How did you find your care provider and were they VBAC supportive? If so- how? If not, did you think they were and they ended up not being so? How did you respond?
I guess I touched on this above.  I found Dr. Cobb just through online research.  I was actively on the Babycenter VBAC Support Board and they often referenced ICAN chapters, so I joined San Diego’s.  After reading about Dr. Cobb online, then hearing what all the lovely ladies of ICAN had to say about him, I met with him.  I’ll admit, at first I was like ‘what’s with everyone drinking the Cobb kool-aid around here?  How different can an OB be?’  Ha!  Little did I know.  The best part about Dr. Cobb is his faith in the female body and his respect for his patients.  Very rarely do you find a doctor that doesn’t want to take control or have some sort of a God-complex.  But here he was, this quiet soul in the corner, your cheerleader, telling you that you are whole, that you are healthy and that you can do it.  What was also comforting to my husband and I was that he was so smart and medically trained, that God forbid something went wrong, we knew he could handle it.  What more could you ask for?  My VBAC with him was such a beautiful experience.  I couldn’t believe what childbirth could be like!  I felt empowered, I guess, but really it just felt right.  My sister, who is 23 and studying to be a nurse, said afterwards that ‘this is what I want to do!’  She was a part of my first birth as well so she has seen both sides and knows I was cheated the first time.  My mom said, "now that’s how a baby should be born."  She was completely blown away.  So, those little things were very cool to add to my experience.  If I had stayed with my previous OB the amount of stress carried would’ve been massive.  It would’ve been a completely opposite experience.  To sum it up, my first labor was a medically orchestrated event and I was just a puppet.  My VBAC was mine, nobody elses, and my baby and I were the main event.

What would you say to a woman who's considering a VBAC? How would you encourage her? 
In my circle of friends, I’ve become the VBAC/natural birthing girl.  I'm pretty outspoken about it.  A close friend of mine told me that if she didn’t see me do it, she would’ve just had another C-section.  She went on to VBAC successfully.  She then tells others about her experience, so it really makes me happy that I’ve made this teeny tiny difference... that maybe this little ripple will do something eventually.  I have really become a cheerleader for VBACs and women knowing they deserve to have control of their births.  When I talk to women along the way or when I have friends who face the choice, I have no problem telling my story and I offer to talk with them about it if they would like.  I tell them that I did a ton of research and if they want me to pass anything along to them I’d be happy to.  I open the door and if they want to take it, then great!   But it is also hard for me because when I hear people scheduling a RCS for no reason, specifically because their doctor scared them into it, it makes me scream inside.  I wrestle with how can I can be the encourager without stepping on toes.  I try to tell them it’s so safe and best for mom and baby, but I leave it at that.  It’s hard for me, but understand that they are grown adults and each make her own choice.