A Postitive Vbac Story by Jemma Ellis
Like a lot of people my birth stories are completely opposite to each other! I was only 23 years old when I had Nate, when we found out we were pregnant it was a complete shock as I was on birth control. But we knew straight away how blessed we were and we were beyond excited! Growing up all I ever wanted was to be a mummy and we both always wanted kids young (although we always thought we would try mid to late 20’s haha). Straight away we were super excited and I knew from day one that I wanted a nice natural positive birth. At the time I decided not to read to much into birth. I wanted an open mind and I wanted to go of my instincts. I was the oldest of 4 brothers and my husband is the oldest of 6 sisters…..we were both super comfortable and content around babies and knew what we were in for.
Friends and family kept offering me books to read and the midwives at the hospital kept pushing us to go to birth and lactation classes but I felt like it wasn’t for me. I really felt having a completely open mind going in to everything is what kept me the calmest and I felt free from the idea. I constantly thought about all the women over the decades who birthed naturally without any information, intervention or opinions. I trusted my body would know what to do when the time came and I thought I would try my best to see how things came naturally to me and I also took comfort in the idea that my best friend of over 18 years was a midwife so if I did ever have questions she was there to answer. I had the most wonderful pregnancy…..I had never felt so healthy, happy and beautiful. I was working my way up in my career in radio and was the events coordinator, this did mean I had a fairly stressful job and worked big hours on my feet. At the end of the day I would come home fairly exhausted so I didn’t do much exercise through my pregnancy besides the odd walk.
January 13th 2014, I was 40weeks + 4 days: it was 4pm in the afternoon when my husband and I were sitting on our balcony having some us time (we knew we couldn’t get to do that much after Bub was born). We were about to leave to go to his fathers 50th birthday when I had my first contraction. I told Damo that I thought maybe I was going into labour but after each one I kept saying “nah it would hurt more than that”. I assumed they were Braxton hicks and was having them every 10-15minutes or so, we left to go to the party.
Once we got there I noticed they started to intensify becoming more stronger and more frequent, so I asked my mother in law if she thought maybe I was in labour. She timed my contractions and they were 5 minutes apart, she told me I was definitely in labour. I didn’t want my husband to miss out on his dad’s birthday so I kept to myself and calmly walked through my contractions outside. I was excited and calm and breathed through each contraction easily. It was 8pm (4hrs since first contraction) when hubby came out to check on me and he thought maybe it was time to go home because he knew how I wanted to labour in the shower / bath. At home we were greeted by my mum, I had asked her to come over and be apart of it because I knew having her and her calm energy there would give me strength. For the next hour I sat in the shower on the for ball doing my own thing, keeping calm and breathing through each contraction until Damo said that my contractions were only 2 and a half minutes apart so we thought maybe it was time to go to the hospital.
Once we arrived at the hospital I felt like I had already stripped off and was naked ready to hop in the water before we even got to our room. I was straight in the shower with one shower head on my back and the other on my stomach. By this stage the contractions were just under 2 minutes apart and starting to intensify hugely. Around midnight (8hours after first contraction) The contractions were nearly back to back, I was still in the shower but the midwife decided to check how far along I was. 7cm and they were happy with how quickly I was progressing, we thought it would all be over within the next hour or two…..it wasn’t. With each contraction I would stand up and hold my husbands hand and walk through each one. I found it helped the best with the pain, every other position just didn’t feel as natural for me.
By 2am (10hrs after first contraction) i could still handle the pain in my stomach contractions but the pain in my back was starting to become unbearable and my legs were starting to ache from walking on them for so long. I thought I would try move to the bed and lean over it hoping it would relieve some pressure, they also decided to break my waters at the is point as well but it wasn’t long until I was back in the water and walking on the spot. I got the urge to start pushing so it was back to the bed, leaning over in a squatting position. After 20minutes of pushing the babies head still hadn’t started to crown so the midwife checked me, I was still only 7cm. She told me the pushing urge was probably me starting to go through transition and I would have to stop pushing because it wasn’t time.
The obstetrician then came in to see how things were going, he did an internal and told me the reason I wasn’t progressing was due to bubs position. Nate had brow presentation which meant if he didn’t move that there was no way of him being able to fit out. They said the chances of me having to have a cesarean were extremely high but asked if I wanted to give it another couple of hours in hope that he would turn. I was trying so hard for a natural birth, so I said I would keep trying. 6am (14 hours from first contraction) I received another internal, Bub still hadn’t moved and I still hadn’t progressed so they said that they would need to prep me for surgery. The thought of having to need a cesarean never even crossed my mind while I was pregnant. By this time I was starting to become exhausted and felt a little defeated but I knew it was probably the safest option for both of us. After receiving the epidural they decided to give it another couple of hours to see if Bub would turn while my body was more relaxed not feeling the pain. Unfortunately he didn’t and at 10:30am I was taken to theater. 11:05am, January 14th (19hours after first contraction) our son was welcomed into the world.
I think a part of me did feel a little disappointed but I knew I couldn’t think like that. I knew it was the safest option for both my son and I. I was just so glad he was here and that he was safe and healthy. It was the most happiest day of our lives, I remember just sitting there crying just from looking at him! I felt like my purpose in life had finally started.
When we decided to try for our second baby it did take us longer to fall. I think because we fell so easy with Nate my husband thought it would happen straight away, although I had a feeling it wouldn’t. I was surprised by how much ‘trying’ for a baby took the fun out of our sex life after a few months. Even my husband was shocked and said he missed the spontaneous sex rather then having it because we ‘had’ to (seriously though, what guy complains about to much sex haha). Surely enough though, after some relaxing time off over Christmas we conceived.
I knew going into this pregnancy I wanted to do things differently from the start! I was determined to have a VBAC but at the same time knew that there was a high chance I would need another cesarean which I was okay with. The main reason behind wanting to have a VBAC so strongly was that I was worried if it did result in surgery again, not only would I have the challenges that a mum would face already having a child and trying to spread the love between a toddler and newborn but I would also have to deal with not being able to pick Nate up and I knew I couldn’t just roll around on the floor and play with him or drive and take him to park for 6weeks. So I was determined to do it for him! He was my driving force and my strength.
I knew I wanted to try for a hypnobirth,I decided not to worry about doing a class because I had already been through labor I knew what to expect. So I ordered a few books online, Sophie Fletcher’s book as well as Morgan Freeman’s. Every night once I had put Nate to bed I would read a chapter (or two or three), I knew after the first few pages that this was for me. Every day while Nate had his day sleep I used that time to meditate and listen to my positive birth affirmations. I burnt my essential oils, relaxed and took time out for me! I visualized what I wanted my birth to look like and every day would say my birth affirmations out loud. I was going to try everything I could to help the baby get into the ideal position for a natural birth. I started doing pregnancy yoga with a hynobirthing/doula/yoga instructor and found it to be amazing, everyday I try find the time to do some stretches and get bub moving down in the right position as well as building strength for labour! I also started to see a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and helping to make sure my back, uterus etc was inline…I hoped this would also help eliminate the back pain I felt when i birthed Nate.
I felt so excited yet calm approaching this birth, I hoped everything I was doing was going to work and I was positive that it would. Unfortunately I was told that I wasn’t allowed a water birth like I had hoped for due the blood loss I had in my first labour and the fact it was a high risk VBAC. So I had to change my birth preferences and start to visualize myself giving birth in a yoga position on the floor or on a bed rather then in the water. My mind was clear and open and calm. Around the 34 week mark I started to get a little emotional, not because I knew birth was around the corner but because I couldn’t believe I only had a few weeks left with just my little man. It wouldn’t just be him and I on our little adventures any more and I started to think (what most mums do) “how will I share my love”, “will Nate feel like I’m spending all the time with the baby and not him” or “will he get jealous”. So I made sure every second I spent with him counted, everyday we would go somewhere new and have an adventure.
October 4th 2016 (due date)- for the past few months I had been having Braxton hicks every day. Today was no different, I was at the beach with Nate playing trucks and swimming in the ocean and like always I was having them on and off for hours. I knew they were starting to feel a little more stronger so I had a feeling that labour would start within the next few days. That night we went to bed like normal, no signs of Bub coming. At 11:40pm I woke needing to go to bathroom, I thought it was odd because it was something I never do and knew it was my bodies way of cleansing itself ready for birth. Half way through I felt my first surge (I use the word surge rather then contraction this time around to describe this birth because it was something I did after studying hypnobirthing). This wasn’t the typical first surge you would normally feel at the start of your birthing journey, it was extremely intense…similar to the ones you feel right before you start to push.
I thought to myself that my last labour went for so long that I didn’t need to wake hubby for a few hours, so I jumped back into bed and put on my birth affirmations to help get me in the zone and I was ready to try get some sleep. Just as I laid down I needed to go to the toilet again, so I jumped up and as I was walking I had another intense surge and my waters broke (well trickled). I decided to wake Damo up and tell him I think that baby is coming, he called my mum (who lives 20min away) so she could come over to watch Nate incase he woke from any noise and so I could get into my birthing zone without worrying about him. I jumped in the shower while we waited, Damo decided to time my surges and already they were 1 and half minutes apart. How does that even happen, I had only had my first surge a few minutes ago ago! Before my mum had even arrived I knew that the baby was coming, I said to my husband he needed to find out where mum was or we would need to take Nate to hospital. He was confused, why would need to take him with us and I calmly told him that I was starting to push and that the baby was coming. He couldn’t believe it, thankfully mum came a few minutes later and up to the hospital we went.
Everything was happening so fast! I kept listening to my affirmations (sophie fletcher) which helped distract me from the intensity of the surges. When we arrived at the hospital I was pushing and the midwives got me straight up onto the bed. After 20 minutes of pushing they were worried maybe I was pushing at the transition stage again so they checked me, but the babies head was there ready to go! My husband was amazing, he let me stay in my calm zone and if he noticed I was struggling he would softy tell me how amazing I was doing and if I had an intense surge he would tell me that it was only 1 minute, that’s only 5 deep breaths and that surge would be over. Remembering each surge was only 1 minute made it so much easier to get through, all I pictured was holding my baby for the first time, smelling him and feeling that indescribable love. After another 15 minutes of pushing they realized I was in the wrong position for baby to finish coming down so I had to change and go to a more sitting up position (which I really didn’t want to do). Once I changed positions it was only 2 more pushes and Bub came out. My husband was suppose to deliver him but it literally happened that quick there just wasn’t time.
I couldn’t believe it, we did it!!!! I got to have the most AMAZING birth experience and I got my VBAC! 2 hours and 10 minutes after my first contraction we welcomed our 2nd beautiful baby boy (I was sure I was going to have a girl so it was a surprise to find out he was a boy). Hudson Thomas Jeffs was born 5th October. I couldn’t think my husband enough for his supper and for trusting me and body and supporting me in the birth that I was hoping for. Also my midwife Annette, during my prenatal appointments I made it very clear I was hoping for a calm birth so I was thrilled when I got Annette. She let me stay in my zone without distraction and if she had any questions or concerns she would check with my husband first to see if he could answer it before coming and asking me.
So to any mums out there nervous about trying for VBAC, it can be amazing! Just because you had a not so enjoyable first experience doesn’t mean it will be the same! The healing time after is so much better and I would encourage any mums out there thinking about it to have an open mind and follow your instincts <3