I am writing this for anyone who is going for their own VBAC - it IS possible!
My first baby was a csection at 38 weeks for breech. Before the section I asked about VBAC and was told I could ‘probably’ have one with my next baby. It was only when I was actually pregnant with my second baby I found out about the total VBAC ban in my prefecture. So I went looking and found my answer on the internet. We found a traveling midwife willing to come and attend my HBAC and flew her out at 39 weeks. That baby was supposed to be my HBAC to prove everyone wrong. It was supposed to be a birth to throw in the face of the four different dr.s who refused me. Maybe it was my own hubris but at over 42 weeks and 30 odd hours of early labour going seemingly nowhere she just would. not. come. out. And my triumphant home birth turned into a repeat section.
The third time round I was more determined than ever. We engaged the same traveling midwife at 9 weeks who remained confident in my ability to birth vaginally, but I told her ‘The fight has just gone out of me.’ I was never going to schedule a section, but I did not want to spend my pregnancy fighting for that choice. And she wrote back ‘Don’t fight; enjoy your pregnancy!’ and the most important ‘Just smile and nod’ for my prenatals. But I still knew I needed a different approach to this birth. So at 24 weeks I started the Hypnobabies home study course along with the VBAC success mp3 tracks. I remember the first time listening to VBAC Birth Visualization I cried. When the track said ‘You are now past the point you had a section with your last baby. What would that be like?’ My heart soared at the question and I visualized what it would be like to be 6cm, never having made it past 4 with my daughter. Faithfully I did a hypnosis session in the morning, VBAC success track at night and Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations wherever I could fit it in between. It was wonderful. I began to relax so completely and felt a real confidence not only in myself, but in my choices. I wasn’t actually crazy. Going up against the anti-VBAC system in Japan very often made me feel like I was.
At 15 weeks I decided to go in for my first prenatal check up because of some spotting. The dr said I had a low lying placenta or possible previa and referred me to the large prefectural hospital. The dr. there told me that I did not, in fact, have complete or partial previa, but rather a low lying placenta and, of course, I would be having another section, right? Smile and nod. I continued to go once a month and the doctors continued to ignore my questions. One doctor actually laughed aloud when I asked him to tell me where the placenta was. Another time a different dr said it was 'not so low'. Every time I went at every scan it was ‘Next appointment we will tell you’. (Ultrasounds are performed at EVERY appointment here by the dr.) Finally at 29 weeks when the only communication I received was ‘BABY OK. BLOOD OK.’ from these high risk specialist OBs I decided my time and money was better spent doing my own prenatal care.
My weight stayed down, I got all the exercise I could with my other two kids, my BP was better than ever and I made sure to eat as much protein as I could. My baby remained in the same head down position and moved regularly and frequently, and my stomach continued to grow and grow.
Finally at 40weeks and a day my midwife, Gail, arrived. We proceeded to wait hoping that this baby would come before 42 weeks. We measured my stomach, did a prenatal check up every few days, did a membrane sweep or two and spent the rest of our time out and about.
At 41 weeks though, I began to get impatient and bought the ‘Come OUT, Baby’ mp3 track from Hypnobabies. I listened to it that Saturday night, Sunday morning and interspersed it with ‘Easy First Stage’ and ‘Birth Day Affirmations’. Finally Sunday night I woke up twice with mild cramps, but thought nothing of them. Monday morning at 41 weeks 5 days I was hoping to find a bloody show or maybe lose some more mucous plug – anything – to show something was happening. But nothing. I still had this funny feeling about that day, though. The cramping started again in the morning and they were mild, but long. I would have just one long cramp for an hour or so and then finally a recognizable contraction thrown in there. I didn’t get too excited – I spent most of the 30 hours of my previous labour thinking ‘This is it!’ so preferred to be in total denial rather than face the disappointment of spending another whole day pregnant. We decided to go with everyone to a winery out of town. We piled into the car and I had one great contraction while driving, but that was it. Walking around the winery I continued to have contractions sporadically, but remained firmly in denial. We came home and I had a rest with my daughter and around 5pm I made the rice and DH started getting supper ready. Just before 6:00 everyone was sitting down to supper but I knew I couldn’t eat and suddenly I could no longer sit through the contractions. Every 5 to 10 minutes I would get up and go to the bedroom, moan through the contraction and then go back to the kitchen. Finally I just couldn’t go back to the kitchen and DH got into a rush to take the kids to his parents house. Before he left though I wanted Gail to do a check so DH could have some idea where things were. ‘5 to 6 centimeters’, she said. My magic number. The relief and joy that washed through me was so complete. Soon after that first check at 6:30 my water broke and things became intense very quickly. Gail set up the birth room and by next check 45 minutes later I was 7cm. We phoned DH to hurry back home and 5 minutes later I started to feel pushy. Labour seemed to start so fast and furious I lost all focus – I was completely in labour land. Meanwhile Gail was by herself quickly trying to get everything ready, setting out the plastic sheeting, setting out chuck pads, monitoring the baby, trying to get hold of DH and I got so thirsty I started begging for something to drink. And Gail, already trying to do so many things at the same time went to the kitchen to grab me anything she could find. She came back and, bless her, handed me a bottle of Canola oil. It was clearly marked as such – in Japanese of course - and I thought I was going to cry. At 7:45 DH finally made it home with both kids in tow and 5 minutes later I was fully dilated. We thought based on my stomach that I was having a 7 or 8 pound little girl and both expected the baby to fly right out. Not so. I spent the next 1 hour and 50 minutes pushing. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard at something in my life. My kids were amazing and though they were sometimes frightened by my screaming they stayed quiet and close to each other and did really well. At 9:43 my baby crowned and at 9:45, 4 hours and 15 minutes after active labour started, my 10 pound 2 ounce (4600g!) baby boy came into this world. He was placed on my chest and I finally, finally knew what it felt like to be the first to hold my newborn baby. It was the moment I had been waiting almost 6 years for. It was wonderful to hold him and have my DH and my children by my side. We spent the next hour looking at Felix and just enjoying the thrill of it all. It was relaxed, peaceful and even better than I had hoped for.
Husbands are not allowed in the operating rooms here and so my DH at last witnessed the birth of one of his children. There was no one to take the baby away from me. No one to tell me when to breastfeed. No drugs to paralyze me or to fight through to stay alert enough to enjoy those first few hours. I spent that night too excited and elated to sleep and felt so blessed to lay there next to Felix, watching him. I can’t imagine ever choosing to do it another way.