Posts Tagged ‘vbac’

Felix’s Birth Story, My CSAC

There’s a lot of lingo people use to describe subsequent cesareans. People just say, “repeat;” some women say “elective repeat cesareans.” In the ICAN village, a lot of women use the term CBAC to describe a VBAC attempt that ended in cesarean. This stands for Cesarean Birth After Cesarean. I don’t use that term because I don’t feel I have given birth to my children. To me, having someone else remove the baby from my body is not birthing.

I twinge reading my surgical report where it says, “The patient delivered abdominally.” That’s an active voice verb–delivered. I didn’t do anything but lie there. I prefer CSAC, which is cesarean section after cesarean.

This time, things were probably as good as they can get for a cesarean delivery minus putting my baby on my chest in the OR. My doula was there with me, along with my husband and the midwife. Last time, they didn’t bring Corey in for a long time and the midwife had to run off to catch someone’s baby that the surgeon would have been catching. But I had a husband, doula, and midwife with me for Felix. So I had a lot of people who cared about me at the head of the table.

(Edited to add: At Magee, they bring your support people into the OR after they establish the sterile field. This time, I had my midwife with me while they prepared my body and then they brought in Corey and Karen pretty quickly afterward)

The anesthesiologist this time was, again, awesome. There had been a shift change and now Dr. O’C (another DO) was on duty. She was gentle and attentive, used my first name, and listened to me when I told her I felt claustrophobic. She moved things away from my face, found alternate ways to deliver oxygen to me so I didn’t feel smothered by the mask, and held the curtain away so I could look at Felix when he was pulled out. In the event of a cesarean, I had wanted to make sure everyone in the room respected our major life event (which I didn’t feel happened last time) and that definitely came to be.

One of the nurses had formerly worked at a birth center and understood that I’d worked for a normal birth. Dr. B. said several times that he understood this wasn’t the outcome I’d been hoping for. Everyone acknowledge my fear and disappointment and that made things a lot better for me. We also got to have pictures of Felix’s early moments. How do you even describe what that means? We have no images of Miles until I was wheeled into recovery, but we have photos of each of us meeting Felix for the first time, of him still caked in meconium, of him on the baby scale.

And, as I mentioned earlier, I got to see my placenta this time. Pam brought it over and showed me all the parts of it, and the sac that had nourished and protected Felix for months.

Another thing that made the CSAC a better experience was having ICAN with me. One of the nurses participates with our chapter and she was on duty that day, stopping in to talk with me and visit. My doula is a VBAC mom. Corey was updating and sharing encouragement from ICAN members throughout the day. So, mentally and emotionally, I felt supported.

My recovery, as I mentioned, was rough. Even in the hospital, there was a miscommunication about my pain medication until I reached a 10 on the pain scale and was crying in my bed. The nurse assumed I was crying because I hadn’t had a vaginal birth and so I had to wait even longer for pain relief. We spent the rest of my stay chasing the pain rather than staying on top of it–a much worse scenario when you’ve had your abdomen severed and your organs (quite literally) man-handled.

Five weeks out, I am finally allowed to lift Miles again, but my ab muscles are still separated, I’m still bleeding and I have strange purple splotches around my incision. I’m following up at Magee to figure it all out, and I keep on keeping on because I have 2 children to parent now.

Recently, Samantha Shapiro wrote a feature on Ina May Gaskin in the New York Times and had a wonderful way of describing feelings I share about the arrival of my children. She wrote, “It should be possible both to acknowledge that something real was lost in the way my baby was born and to know that this loss is finite.” The finite part of that is what I cling to now, knowing that as time goes on my lower abdomen will look less like a grape vine and that I will, in all ways, begin to heal.


Posted by on June 12th, 2012 13 Comments

Felix’s Birth Story, Part Two

Once my blood pressure dropped and my baby’s heart rate dropped again and they started pumping things into my IV, I started getting afraid. At this point, I really relied on Corey and my doula and the midwife to reassure me things were going well. I was trying to visualize myself opening, pushing out my baby, and putting him onto my chest. I tried listening to my VBAC tracks to calm down.

We did get things stabilized, but for the next five hours I really found myself focused on the beeps, trying to gauge if Octagon was having a decel at the beginning of a wave (this is generally ok) or toward the middle or end (more worrisome and indicative of distress). Corey and others offered to turn off the beeping, but once I knew there were problems, I felt like I had to listen to it, had to know when he was in trouble so I could talk to him or try to DO something to help.

I got this sense that the baby wanted me to lift my leg into the air. I was lying on one side and didn’t have tons of control, but made Corey help me hold my leg up in the air. This seemed to help! So my doula and Corey helped hold up my leg until Pam, the midwife who’d come on duty, found a smaller birthing ball to prop my leg on.

This mean, of course, that all my business was just hanging out for all the world to see. Magee is a teaching hospital, so all the world cycled in and out of my room pretty regularly. Another great thing about the epidural is not giving a shit that 74 students are coming in the room to read my strip or check my numbers. I just kept focusing on keeping my leg up in the air. When Octagon had a decel, I decided I needed to point and flex my foot very rapidly, which seemed to coincide with his heart rate recovering to a nice pace. So I kept doing that!

I had requested to meet the OB on duty early on in my hospital stay, so I would know him or her from a hole in the head should something go wrong. I met Dr. B, who seemed interested that I was getting to use the birthing ball despite having an epidural. Around this time, Pam checked me and I was dilated to about 7cm. I felt so, so proud of my body. This was further than I dilated with Miles! Despite the frequent heart decels, I really still believed at this point that I would open up 3 more centimeters. I knew if I could get to ten, I could push that baby out.

Not for nothing do I have thunder thighs from years of rugby and hiking and stair climbing. I just knew if I got to pushing, I could do that part, even if I felt nervous about pooping on the bed. That’s the active part, the part I can control, right? I still believe I could do it. My doula told me she also thought I would be really good at pushing. We just started to focus on that and think about opening up. The next time I got checked, I was at 8.

However, I was also really skirting a line with my baby’s heart decels. There was also meconium, thick meconium, in my amniotic fluid and we confirmed that the baby was posterior and that his head was turned to the side (which is called occiput transverse).

At this point, we got an internal monitor placed on my baby’s scalp, which slipped off a few times and made it seem like he was flat lining. So the room kept filling with people and I kept hearing talk of a scrub team getting ready in an OR. My morale began to slip at this point, despite being at 8. We tried to clear out the room, dim the lights, and help me focus and relax.

By 11:15, I was at 9cm. NINE! NINE! Again, I felt like it would happen. Pam told me she was cautiously optimistic. The OB and his residents started talking about something called an amnio-infusion, where they’d add some fake amniotic fluid into my womb to perhaps take pressure off the umbilical cord and maybe help Octagon’s heart rate. Nobody seemed to have heard of this before. I was game for anything that got me more time to get to 10 and push.

Just as an OB resident (who happens to be married to Corey’s bicycle friend) began to explain procedures and have me sign things, the scalp monitor slipped and/or Octagon had a massive, prolonged decel, and the nurse called in an emergency. Dr. B had a pocket-ultrasound machine checking the baby, but told me at this point he was concerned the baby would not tolerate pushing, which is quite taxing on a standard baby heart rate. His recommendation was a cesarean.

I felt disappointment such as I’ve never experienced. I felt crushing failure mixed with fear that my baby was in danger. And also I realized that I would have to verbally consent to the surgery this time, that nobody was going to yank my bed out of the room and kick open doors while sprinting to the operating room. Dr. B and his team stepped out, leaving just Pam and Corey and my doula. I asked to get checked again, in case I was 10. I asked Pam to stretch me to 10, and she gave it a shot, but there I was.

I remember Corey being angry, worried that false readings or over-reliance on technology was painting a false picture of the danger. But what do you say when several different heart-rate-readers indicate your baby is in trouble?

It was 1pm. I’d been birthing for 13 hours and gotten so. freaking. close, and I had to say yes to a surgical procedure that terrified me, that I’d be awake for and aware of, that manifested all my greatest fears. They wheeled me away, crying and alone, to the last place I wanted to go.

Posted by on June 11th, 2012 4 Comments

Felix’s Birth Story Part One

When I was 38 weeks pregnant, I hopped in the bathtub and listen to the Birthing Day Affirmations and Easy First Stage tracks from my Hypnobabies course–we were supposed to listen to the tracks just once to make sure they worked, and to wait until 38 weeks because of the powerful hypnotic induction.

The next day, I lost my mucous plug! I ran around the entire day sure that I would start my birthing time. I told every woman I encountered, “Hey! I just lost my mucous plug!!!!” I felt ok about over-sharing with strangers and friends alike, because most people were asking obstetrical questions or trying to touch my belly anyway.

I really enjoyed that day with Miles, thinking it might be my last as the parent of just one child. I rocked him all the way to sleep for nap and stroked his hair while he slept. And then I kept on being pregnant for a few days!

But, at 12:01AM on Thursday, May 3, my eyes snapped open as I felt a pop and a strong pressure wave. I felt like I had wet my pants a little bit. I scurried to the bathroom to investigate, not sure what to think because my water never broke with Miles. I was very excited and noticed within that hour that my waves were regular. This was it! We called our doula and my mom, who had to high-tail it in terrible thunderstorms to get to Pittsburgh to hang out with Miles.

I sort of tried to sleep and listen to my birthing day play list, but all I wanted to do was lie in child’s pose and listen to the affirmations on the floor, so I did that for a few hours.

When I began to feel like I needed more support, we asked our doula to come over and she started putting pressure on my hips, which was wonderful most of the time. I moved back and forth between hands and knees, the birthing ball, and sitting on the Pittsburgh potty. I tried doing some Ina May tricks like raspberries to keep my face loose (“as above, so below,” she says) and I started vocalizing long AAAAAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhh breaths as the waves shifted from my belly into my lower back. Exclusively.

At that point, I got a little afraid because I knew Octagon was posterior, despite my months of chiropractic care and squats and cat/cow. I didn’t have time to acknowledge being afraid, however, because my waves were 2 minutes apart and I vomited. I always read about how this means things are moving along for pregnant ladies. It turns out for me, vomiting just made me super dehydrated.

I remember one of the affirmations coming on during a particularly intense wave that felt like it might sever my spine–“Every time a pressure wave ends, I smile and feel very happy.” I started laughing because of COURSE I felt happy when the wave ended. It was over! I was having a harder and harder time coping, and getting louder and louder, worried I’d wake up Miles. It got hard for me to focus, so I decided I wanted to go to the hospital.

We had to call neighbor Jon to come over, since my mom wasn’t here yet, and Corey got to turn left on red as we drove to Magee in the pouring rain at 5 in the morning. I leaked a puddle of amniotic fluid in the emergency room while they tried to make me fill out a form. I felt really excited about that, like I’d always wanted to leave a puddle of baby water on someone’s floor.

When we got to triage, we saw Tina the midwife was on duty, which made me so happy because she’s so supportive. I was a little bit out of my mind at this point and I had decided in the car that if I wasn’t at 7, I needed an epidural. I was losing my focus, starting to freak out a little, and in incredible discomfort.

Tina checked me, told me I was at 4cm, 100% effaced, and she also noticed that Octagon was having heart decels. She started me on a bag of IV fluids instead of just a heplock and I requested the epidural. I remembered the epidural-getting from last time as pretty horrifying, one of the worst parts of the whole ordeal, but I really felt like this baby’s head was going to shoot out of my butt and it hurt my back so, so, so badly.

I was very, very glad that Phil the anesthesiologist was simultaneously nice, speedy, and really talented. He’s also a DO, which means he did caring things like let us use his first name since he was using our first names. It matters! I experienced relief but could still notice each wave, sometimes having to AAaaahhhh through them, which made me really happy. I had a lot of control over my legs as well, which was great. And best of all, I felt like I could relax. I felt very, very good about my decision. And then my blood pressure dropped and Octagon’s heart rate started going down again…

Posted by on June 8th, 2012 4 Comments

My Mother Blessing: Feeling Supported to VBAC

Even though I was pretty into birthy things while I was pregnant with Miles, I feel like there’s a whole universe of information I discovered only after I became a mother. One aspect of the birth-junky universe is the Mother Blessing (sometimes calls a Blessingway).

Our ICAN chapter holds Mother Blessings-of-sort when we know a member is coming to her last meeting before birthing, where other members write up a “blessing” or wish for her during birthing time and string a symbolic bead onto a necklace for her to take with her and remind her we are all right there with her. This was the first I’d heard of such a ritual.

Then, a friend of mine had a Blessingway before the birth of her second child and I was invited! I felt so honored and loved her celebration so much I just knew I had to have one when I got pregnant again.

And so, my friend Emily helped me organize a Mother Blessing.

It was so magical! I wanted mine to be relatively simple (some women choose to include lots of ritual or even prayer, belly casting…there are entire books about Blessingways and Mother Blessings!). I invited about 10 women who are close to me and have been really supportive of my VBAC journey (mainly women I met through ICAN). Emily helped me organize and acted as facilitator for the day.

We sent out invitations explaining that a Mother Blessing is not the same thing as a baby shower. Instead of showering a mama with material gifts, I asked them to bring something nutritious, some wisdom, an affirmation, and a bead/trinket.

At this point, you might be thinking it sounds very intense and crunchy/woo-woo-ey, and you’d be right! But it was beautiful and solemn and it just made me feel so good inside.

me, 36 weeks pregnant with Octagon Flamingos

I asked everyone to share wisdom in terms of positive memories from their birth experience(s) to  fortify my confidence.

Then, I had written out my fears for this birthing (which I’m proud to say wasn’t too terrible since I’ve been doing a lot of fear clearing with my Hypnobabies program). I read the fears aloud, which will never get easier. Initially, I planned to burn the fears in the back yard, but it was raining. So I read them in the living room, ripped them up, and we all blew bubbles to fill that space vacated by the heavy fears with something light and beautiful.

I had bought touchable bubbles, so my living room was FILLED with bubbles for a very long time. (One mama suggested I could stomp the fear-bubbles away like bubble wrap! I chose to leave the bubbles to burst on their own because I liked how they looked and felt all around me–they didn’t feel like fears anymore.)

Next, everyone shared an affirmation or a blessing for me to read as I prepare for this birthing time. My mother and aunts had sent in birth stories and affirmations, which Emily read aloud, too. I liked, for example, how my Aunt Judy reminded me I am strong because I come from strong women.

Each guest had brought a meaningful bead for me (Mom and my aunts mailed beads, too). Lots of times, women string these onto necklaces to wear or look at during birthing, as a focal point. I had decided to knit a womb doll and will most likely pin the beads to my womb to fortify this symbolic body part, hoping to restore my confidence in my body to function in birthing. I might remember to bring it with me to the hospital, but even leading up to the big day I have all these wonderful remembrances of the people supporting me. I am both humbled and strengthened by this support every time I look at it.

Finally, Emily had brought lavender scented henna and painted a tree of life on my belly! Miles finds this tree to be fascinating. I love walking around with it under my shirt, like a secret. Only it’s not terribly secret because I’ve been showing people a lot. In public.

We sent each guest home with a candle to burn during my birthing time, so they can all be with me in that moment, together (which reminds me that I need to get Emily the list of contact info for the people who will need to light candles!). I’ve been burning similar candles for friends lately, and I love the idea that in some small way, I am there with that friend, supporting her. It gives me a lot of peace to know there will be people out there lighting similar candles for me and Octagon.

So that’s my big, sappy overview of my really special ceremony. I wish every woman would get to experience such a thing. I sure hope I get called upon in the future to organize one for someone I love!

PS–all these photos were taken by Shannon of Perceptivity Photography, one of my partners listed on my sidebar!

Posted by on April 17th, 2012 4 Comments

Packing My Bags

According to all the timelines (and my midwives) I need to pack my birthing bag this weekend because I’ll be 36 weeks and Octagon could come at any time. Part of me thinks this is crazy, since of course Octagon will gestate for 41+ weeks just like his darn brother. Most of me thinks this is awesome, because I like nothing more than pre-planning and practice packing.

Last time, I packed way too much crap. And it wasn’t the right crap. 5 pairs of cheapo socks to wear while birthing? Bah. Several changes of clothes? Who has the energy to put on clothes? It was all I could do to put on some sweatpants to go home. Underwear? I wore those disposable mesh hospital numbers happily!

But I didn’t have my own towel or shower stuff. And let me tell you–hospital towels are not really towels. They are more like scratchy, over-sized washcloths. In fact, I think I used a bigger washcloth at the Sheraton for our trip a few weeks ago.

Last time, I disrobed and donned a hospital gown as suggested, until I realized that I needed to be totally naked. Then I stayed that way through many, many hours of contractions and didn’t give a fart who saw me that way. Just in case birthing-Katy wants to have clothes on this time, I think I’ll go ahead and wear a sports bra and some sort of comfortable outfit I don’t mind soiling. Maybe a dress? Otherwise, I’m really ok wearing a hospital gown for a few days.

I’m going to let Corey worry about his own crap, because I love that man but I can’t deal with his nonsense when it comes to packing or planning. As for me and Octagon, this is what we’re bringing:

  • 2 shirts and 1 pair of pants for going home. Chances are, 1 of the shirts will get wrecked. Hence, 2.
  • My Boppy pillow. For nursing. Those hospital pillows aren’t sufficient.
  • 2 of our own baby blankets, because they are softer
  • 2 going home outfits for Octy, because his brother barfed on his going home outfit and I didn’t have a spare and I now know better.
  • My nursing tank!
  • A towel
  • many, many tubes of lip balm
  • lotion
  • travel shower stuff
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Crocs
  • maybe some socks? My feet are always stinking hot anyway. And I’m certain I won’t wear them during my birthing time.
  • snazzy new nursing bra
  • charger for my phone (which is a camera and computer all in one!)
  • case for my glasses
  • birth vision
  • smutty magazine, like People or US Weekly

And I don’t think I’m going to pack anything else. If I wind up with a RC/S, my mom can bring me additional things for an extended stay. If all goes well, I want to get the heck out of there as soon as possible. I just want to make sure I pack a big enough bag to take advantage of taking things (like many, many spare pairs of the hospital mesh underwear and those pink plastic bins that are SO great for so many things).

Am I missing something crucial? Was your bag packing different for subsequent babies?

Posted by on April 13th, 2012 5 Comments


My neighbors have a toilet pit in their back yard for their dogs. It’s called a Dooley. It’s full of water and enzymes and it breaks down the dog droppings.

I mention this because, several years ago, when I first heard the word “doula” I assumed I was mis-hearing the person and she was talking about having a dog toilet at her birth. In a way, it sort of made sense. I imagined she was home birthing and wanted to maybe dispose of her medical waste this way?

But then, she kept talking more about this doula and I realized I was really, really hearing her wrong.

Doula–a childbirth coach. A woman who is with women throughout their birthing time.

I knew about doulas by the time I was pregnant with Miles and I knew I sort of wanted to hire one. Sort of. But I also knew I was going to bang out a baby naturally in only a few hours, like all the women in my maternal line. Plus I had Corey rubbing tennis balls on my back and helping me plan out how to breathe through each pressure wave. Who needs a doula?

…Me! If I could do one thing differently about birthing Miles, I’d convince past-Katy to hire a doula. Even if the outcome had been the same, I feel confident a doula would have helped us with some bedside manner things that made the cesarean experience so terrible for me.

Sometimes, the Internet and people I know say things like, “what a frivolous expense” or even go so far as to call a doula a waste of money. I hope to gently shift their thinking about such an important person!

This time, hiring a doula was my first priority after finding out I was pregnant. Research shows that continuous support during birthing benefits mothers and babies. That right there would have been enough to make up my mind. But I also wanted a doula who “gets it” about VBAC–I want someone there with me who knows what I went through, understands what’s probably going on in my head AND my body. So many VBAC and even CBAC mamas I know speak of their doula as a total game-changer, shifting the birthing experience into one that was empowering and positive for the mother.

Theoretically, choosing a midwife over an obstetric surgeon for my prenatal care means my care provider would be with me more and throughout birthing, but the practice I see is extremely busy–even busier than they were 2.5 years ago when Miles was born. When I was having my surgical birth, my midwife wasn’t even able to stay in the operating room with me because she had to go catch someone else’s baby.

This doula is someone who’s just for me, a bonus person.

My work with ICAN puts me in touch with so many wonderful people in the birth community in Pittsburgh. I feel like our city flows with doulas, because I know so many of them. I picked my friend Karen as my doula because she seems to “get” me, she’s a VBAC mom herself, she’s calm, funny, and lives down the street.

She’ll be there with me at the hospital to help with positions (even if I can’t get the wireless monitors) and counter-pressure on my back (or maybe I’ll need pressure other places! Who even knows!) and she’ll be an objective person who’s on my team to help make sure Corey and I understand our options and have a voice in what’s happening. And she won’t let them take away my placenta without showing it to me.

I feel great about this choice. Now, of course, I have to put in some work and develop a birth vision with my doula because the midwives just reminded me that I only have 9 weeks to go and I have to voice some options!

Posted by on March 9th, 2012 2 Comments

Hypnobabies and My VBAC

Some time ago, we had a speaker at one of our ICAN meetings–a Hypnobabies instructor who came to talk about hypnosis, VBAC, relaxing, and birthing. I remember feeling immediately intrigued by this notion of hypnosis as a childbirth tool, and simultaneously skeptical of such a thing. After all, I’m a very analytical person. I have a terminal graduate degree. I’m in charge of my mind, darnit!

But everything she said made so much sense. And at the end of her talk, she led us through a sample hypnosis session for relaxation in general. I leaned my head back against the couch and listened to her speak, got outside my head and calmed my rushing mind. I was in the moment in a way I hadn’t experienced since pre-Miles rugby games, more than I ever was during my month-long meditation challenge from last year.

I knew I would use Hypnobabies as a tool through any subsequent pregnancies. Even if the only successful outcome was a period of mental calm and relaxation similar to the one I experienced at that meeting, I’d consider it a great victory.

Getting out of my head, getting my mind to stand still and surrender to my body–these are my big challenges in all things, but birthing in particular. Who the heck knows what factors combined to cause the eventual fetal bradycardia and surgical birth with Miles. All I know is I’ll do anything to avoid that happening again, and Hypnobabies seems like a fantastic tool to help in this adventure.

I opted for the home-study Hypnobabies course because I know I’d find the in-person courses stressful in terms of time commitment (4 hours of childcare for Miles per week for 5 weeks…lots of driving, meals in the car, late bed time), and feared it would outweigh the benefits of the practice.

The premise of Hypnobabies (or at least my understanding of the practice) is first that childbirth is an easy, natural, and wonderful thing. Hypnobabies carefully selects vocabulary surrounding birthing, avoiding words like “labor” and “contraction” that are associated with pain. The workbook and CDs use terms like birthing time, pressure/birthing waves, transformation (instead of transition) to convey a peaceful and enjoyable experience where our society has created a language of fear and pain.

I can get behind this–I found the first 18 hours of my birthing time with Miles to be totally manageable, with the excellent support of Corey and my mom. Who wouldn’t want more tools to ease through those waves again? As a lover of language, I also believe in the power of words. So heck yes! Let’s throw out the scary language and adopt these new terms.

Another core element of Hypnobabies seems to include the idea that our mind can create a powerful anesthesia through hypnosis, that we can use our subconscious to so thoroughly relax our muscles that we open up with ease, quickly, and joyfully birth our babies right on out. To attain this, Hypno-mamas listen to joyful birthing affirmations every day along with a ~35-minute hypnosis script talking us through techniques, birth visualization, and above all deep relaxation.

So far, hypnosis doesn’t seem so different to me from meditation. I don’t know if I’m “good” at it, but I know I really, really, really like these CD’s and they help me feel calm.

Usually, I only find time to listen to the scripts as I’m going to bed. The woman’s voice on the tracks tells me it’s ok if I fall asleep because “your subconscious is always listening,” and that I am likely not asleep but in really deep hypnosis. Prior to beginning this practice, falling-asleep-time was the worst part of my day because my brain would go NUTS worrying through my week, my month, my social networks, and other people’s problems. You name it, I’d worry about it before sleep. I’ll tell you what–the past few weeks I’ve had probably the best and most restful sleep since before I had Miles.

Even when the little bugger wakes me up at 5 in the morning, I’m getting up with a truly restful sleep session behind me.

I try to make sure I listen to each script at least once during my bus ride to work so I’ve consciously heard the instructions, in case I need this knowledge for when I’m birthing BL2.0.

I started my Hypnobabies studies a bit early in my pregnancy because I wanted a lot of time to internalize the special VBAC affirmations I ordered with my course. These have been wonderful as well! I’m looking forward to the Fear Release sessions that I know will be so helpful for me as I get closer to Birthing Day (fewer than 85 days to go already). Again, Hypnobabies offers a technique to get me out of my head.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. If you see me on the bus/in a waiting room and I’m not responding to you or acknowledging you in any way, it’s because I’m practicing my light switch technique or building up my Bubble of Peace. I’m working every day to just let my body do its work and to give my type-A brain permission to just zone out for a change.

Posted by on February 19th, 2012 3 Comments

The VBAC Consult

Tomorrow is a very big day for me. I have a VBAC consultation with the obstetrician who backs up the Midwives at Magee. Everything I’ve heard through my work with ICAN and personal discussions with other women tells me this doctor is a wonderful champion for VBAC and does what he can to make sure women have a chance to try birthing.

This is really saying something for a surgeon who works in a tertiary hospital and takes on high-risk cases.

Nonetheless, I’m nervous about the appointment. I know he’ll run my BMI and other stats through the VBAC calculator. I’ve done the same thing. I know my statistical chances are in the 70% success range. But I’m type-A and that’s a C-. I don’t do C-. See how irrational I’m being? Consciously, I know that any number he tells me is still a greater chance of success than elective surgery. But I know I will feel discouraged hearing him offer a success percentage I consider low.

I’m also unable to take off my ICAN chapter co-leader hat during this pregnancy, which means I carry around the birth stories of every woman who seeks ICAN’s support in recovery. I’m trying to make a list of realistic questions I have about MY pregnancy and MY impending birth. It’s rough going.

The midwives asked me to have the consult prior to my appointment with them later that day, so I’ll be going in there knowing I at least have another appointment to process what we discuss with women with whom I’m familiar. Corey will also be coming along, so I’ll have the benefit of his realism to balance out my onslaught of questions.

My biggest and most nagging concern is fetal positioning and what we can do about it if my baby shifts mid-labor. Miles was posterior (thus, part of the trouble I had birthing him) and many of the women I know who had repeat cesareans after attempting (or hoping to attempt) VBAC experienced non-optimal fetal positioning.

I’m also going to ask either the OB or the midwives (or both) to put hands on my belly and check BL2.0’s position, since he was transverse at our 20 wk ultrasound and I’m curious to know whether he’s moved at all toward head-down.

If you don’t hear from me for awhile, assume I am deep within my Hypnobabies cds (more on these later), doing fear clearing and positive birthing affirmations!

Posted by on January 25th, 2012 5 Comments

Midwife vs Machine

I’ve been having a bit of a snit about my estimated date of delivery this pregnancy. The baby is “measuring” a tad bigger than the suggested gestational age, and the midwives have been going back and forth about what date to write down on my chart.

So who cares, right? The date is totally meaningless in terms of dictating when the baby will be born. Why care? Well, because I’m a VBAC candidate. It matters for my prenatal care.

Basically, I only get 41 weeks to gestate this time before I am outside the realm of normal, low-intervention care (with midwives) and into the realm of obstetricians.

Since I gestated 41 weeks and a few days with Miles, I feel uncomfortable having a time limit set on this pregnancy. I don’t want to undergo stress tests and amniotic fluid measurements and “just in case” cesarean scheduling appointments. I shouldn’t have to do these things, either, because this baby is the shining star of a normal, healthy fetus.

So I made an appointment with the chief midwife, the lady in charge. Here’s how that went down:

Chief Midwife: I see here that you are estimating your date of conception on THIS DAY.
Me: Yep. Not an estimate. I’m sure of it.
CM: So you feel confident about it?
Me: Oh yes.
CM: Ok. The ultrasound estimated THIS DATE, which is about 9 days different.
Me: They also told me their range of error was about 10 days in either direction.
CM: So you’re happy with the dates as they are? You’d like to leave your chart as is?
Me: Yes. Definitely yes.
CM: [offers me a high five]

It was so validating to speak with someone who trusted me, who listened when I said I fastidiously charted my ovulation and fertility and valued that knowledge of my body over what a machine printed out.

I mean, look how anal I am about charting my grocery spending. Can you just for a moment think about how ramped up I would be about charting something as important as baby-making? If you want, I can tell you the time of day that conception likely occurred.

In the end, the only difference any of this made was to me. I think that’s a pretty awesome difference! The baby might come on or before the date the machine suggested, and that’s fine. But he might also come on or after the date I helped calculate, and because the chief midwife trusts me, I now have that much more time before the timer starts beeping a la the show 24.

I’m feeling really empowered today. I love being heard by my care providers.

Posted by on December 28th, 2011 3 Comments

ICAN Meeting

I am so excited for the ICAN meeting next week. There was something so powerful about feeling heard by this set of moms at the meeting last month. I sometimes feel like I have exhausted the ears of my support network (even though this might not be true), so it was amazing to be in a room with women who are passionate about birth rights, VBACtivism, choices, empowerment… all those sorts of things. There is nothing better than being in a room of like-minded people!

Last month, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to share my birth story without crying–not that this would be a terrible thing–but I did and I felt a lot of relief afterward. I might share it again next week just to further excise those demons. I was so happy to hear other moms talk about their VBAC experiences, especially since I often feel overwhelmed by all the stories of c-sections bombarding me all the time. Hearing about positive, successful VBACs helped me feel a little less anxious about my own future birth experiences.

There was, however, one thing a mom shared at the meeting that has me totally blown away, still processing. This mom mentioned that her son, born via c-section, started asking her questions in response to her preparation for a VBAC with his sister. This mom was, of course, always talking about natural childbirth and VBACs and it led her son to ask, “mommy? Was I born the wrong way?”

Man! If that doesn’t freeze you in your tracks. I don’t want Miles to ever, ever feel guilt about the circumstances of his birth. I don’t want him to think he was born the “wrong way” and I don’t want him to think it was somehow HIM that made me feel all those sad, powerless, scared feelings. One mom at the meeting, who was born via cesarean herself, mentioned that she still apologizes to her mother for that. I would feel terrible if my adult son was apologizing to me for his birth! One of the things I am learning is that my c-section was nobody’s fault, that there is nobody to place blame on. That’s what makes it so hard for me to work through it–there is no scapegoat at which to target my feelings, so I just have to feel my damn feelings. So much harder!

At the meeting, we talked about ways we can reassure our kids that our own, complicated feelings about their cesarean births do not mean these kiddos were somehow “at fault” for the circumstances. We talked about how we need to tell them, “You were born the right way for YOU,” even if we don’t feel it’s totally true. This is something I’ve been thinking about every day for the last month and will probably be thinking about for years to come, particularly when I get pregnant again. How can I make sure Miles knows he entered the world exactly how he needed to?

I’m very glad I have an ICAN chapter to help me figure out the right answer.

Posted by on April 22nd, 2010 3 Comments