My journey to natural childbirth started in 2004. I was pregnant with my first son and happened upon an article regarding the potential dangers of epidurals. I made a decision that I wanted to avoid that at all costs and that I wanted a natural childbirth. Then I made the mistake of not communicating that wish to my doctor or my husband. I did nothing to prepare for natural childbirth. I didn’t watch any videos, read any books, I didn’t do any parenting or childbirth classes. I thought I was just too busy for all that. I was the active step-mother to three kids, a full time student and I worked part-time, I’d just figure it out (so I thought). When it came time to give birth, I was not at all prepared. I panicked and after eight hours of labor and I don’t know how much pitocin, I asked for an epidural. A few hours later, they told me that I was not progressing as fast as they liked and asked if I wanted a c-section. I didn’t want surgery but by that time I had been laying on my back for hours and I just wanted to move. I told them to wait. They waited and said there wasn’t change and so up to surgery I went. My recovery was good, my baby was healthy. I knew something was missing but I didn’t give it much thought at first.
Fast forward to 2011, and I was pregnant again. This time I knew I wanted to do things differently but hadn’t fully committed to anything outside of the ordinary OBGYN and hospital birth. My first commitment was that I did not want surgery again. I had no idea what a VBAC was or that it was controversial in the medical field. I scheduled an appointment with an OBGYN, a doctor I still love and respect today, but had to cancel. I started reading about VBACs and alternative birthing locations. That’s when I decided that I didn’t want to give birth on a hospital bed. I wanted no part of another c-section, drugs or all the stress hospitals bring for me personally. I remembered from my first pregnancy I had mentioned water birth. I was curious about it, but my doctor told me the hospital did not do that. So I was determined to have my water birth now. I researched and researched and had trouble finding a doctor or a hospital that would fit my (growing but few) demands. I found none. No one would take me as a VBAC natural birth candidate. That was until I found Bella Births and Kathleen Mayorga. She encouraged me and told me I could do it.
I had a pretty standard pregnancy sick in the beginning, and fatigue and a lot of water retention in the end. I was driving 30 miles one way to work and by about October 11 (my “due” date), Kathleen thought it was too much and placed me on restriction. I wasn’t happy but I complied.
On Friday October 14, 2013, I straightened my desk and got all my work in order and headed home to wait on my little man. I walked two malls that evening. I had been faithfully taking evening primrose pills and a tincture called Labor Prep for weeks. At about midnight, I started feeling contractions. I didn’t want to alarm anyone so I started timing them and eventually feel back to sleep. At 2 AM, the pain had intensified and I couldn’t ignore them. I timed them to be about 10 minutes apart. I woke my husband up at this point because if I didn’t try to get him up when it wasn’t an emergency, I wasn’t going to get him up in time. The contractions started coming faster and harder and I relied heavily on the techniques I was taught. My exercise ball was my best friend that night.
I called my midwife at about 5 in the morning letting her know I was getting ready. She told me I could stay home for a while and to call her if I had any changes. My mucus plug came loose about two hours later and I knew it was time to go to the birthing center. I called my parents who were taking care of my six year old. My mom told me later that she didn’t think I was in labor because I was so calm. I grabbed my bag of goodies--Gatorade, protein bars, water, clothes and my trusty Depends, and headed off.
When I arrived I was scared. I had never dilated past 5 centimeters with my first son. When she checked me and I discovered I was an eight I was thrilled. I thought this is going to be easy. I stepped into the tub and prepared myself for a relaxing time. It was ok but one hour turned to four and my patience was strong but I started to doubt just a little. Just about then, I felt pressure but decided to take a break from the water. I transitioned to the bed and pushed for what seemed like an eternity. They had to manually break my water and that is when the challenges began. There was meconium in the water. I labored for about another thirty minutes before my midwife and her assistant left the room. I whispered to my husband “something is wrong.” They told me Jude’s heart rate was slow. A slow heart beat plus meconium, plus a VBAC plus about an hour and a half of pushing meant I had to go to the hospital. I was devastated but didn’t want to hurt my baby. I continued to push (even though I was supposed to stop) all the way to the hospital. When I arrived it was a flurry of activity and panic. I was scared but strangely calm. I wanted relief because I didn’t know what they were going to do. They gave me a tiny bit of local and then the doctor did something I never wanted--he gave me an episiotomy. Less than fifteen minutes later I had a screaming healthy baby boy. Jude Amir Smith was born on Saturday October 15 at 4:45 pm weighing 8 lbs 13 oz and was 21.5 inches long.
No my birth story didn’t quite go as I had planned, but it did have a happy ending. I found out later that I have a condition that causes me to stop progressing in labor. My midwife said I would not have had a VBAC with anyone else. Another midwife or doctor would have transferred me soon and that would have been the end. I was so thankful that I got my VBAC and my healthy baby. I know my story wasn’t the simplest made- for- t.v.- homebirth- movie but its still mine and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I’m not planning to have any more children but if I did I would definitely still try to have my homebirth again.