All photos credit PhotosByMoe
No, Isabelle has not been born, but her birth story actually starts a little over four years ago.
I have had so many people ask me "Why?" regarding my plan for natural birth. I have met people who don't understand and have blatantly disagreed with me for choosing the VBAC path. That's ok, people are uncomfortable with what they do not understand. I do not take it personally. Nonetheless, lets get started...
I had planned the most natural, non-invasive birth for my Madison. As things go with birth sometimes, they did not turn out as I had hoped or dreamed. It was quite the opposite, actually. Her full birth story is here if you would like to read it. To summarize, though, I had a very traumatic week before her birth, and the weeks after her birth were less than blissful and full of squishy, warm, first time mommy emotions.
We found out at 39 weeks that Madison was transverse breech. I was convinced that a c section was my only option. I was told my fluid was too low to try a version, that she was too big to turn, and that she needed to come out ASAP. Let me say, I do have peace about her birth now. I do not think that baby was going to turn. She was wedged under my rib so high that she did not even want to come out when the doctors were tugging on her.
I walked away from Madison's birth feeling... weird. Feeling like I was robbed. I did not feel like I had given birth, or even deserved to call our experience birth. I felt like I had failed her (especially since she had complications and was in the NICU). I felt taken advantage of, and I felt as if I needed to mourn - not celebrate.
There is a theory out there that "as long as the baby is healthy" everything is ok. That is so very untrue. NO, I would never put my own desires for birth before my baby's health... But that is not all that matters. A mother's emotional and mental well being matters.
I struggled with Post Partum Depression, I did not bond with Madison, and we had extreme difficulties breastfeeding. I struggled to heal, and had a great deal of anxiety regarding my incision and that healing process.
Fast forward to Harmony's birth. It was much more peaceful, but not exactly a pleasant experience. You see, I had planned a VBAC (vaginal birth after c section) for her. I did have to battle my OB for a few weeks to get his "permission" (eye roll) to try and go into labor, but he eventually agreed. At 20 weeks Harmony was breech. I had an elective ultrasound (meaning I paid for it and the doc didnt order it) at 30 weeks... still breech. I took matters into my own hands and begun doing research. I discovered that chiropractic care can help turn babies into the optimal birthing position. Well, I found an incredible doctor in Prattville, AL who adjusted me weekly and she got her into a good position.
At 40 weeks I had not gone into labor. I had experienced no early signs of labor, and the doctor did not feel that she had engaged in my pelvis preparing for labor. She was really high. He ordered an ultrasound and it was estimated that she weighed nearly 10 pounds. I was advised that my body would not be able to birth a ten pound baby especially not after a c section. Vulnerable and tired, I was easily talked into a repeat cesarean.
Again, the anxiety. Busted blood vessels, nausea on the operating table. The whole nine yards. I did get to hold Harmony within the hour (i think) of her birth. I bonded better with her, I was able to breastfeed her much easier, but even still, I felt incomplete. I felt as if I had missed out. I felt like my body was a failure, and that I did not deserve the mountain top experience that everyone talked about post partum. Oh, and she only weighed 8 pounds.
Here we are finding ourselves pregnant for the third time. I'm immediately scared. I am not excited to bring this baby into this world. My first OB appointment my doctor makes it clear that a vaginal birth is just not in the cards for me. I accepted it. I didn't think my body was capable of it. I was also told I needed to have my tubes tied in order prevent a fourth cesarean since it was so dangerous (Hmmm... if it is so dangerous, then why a third?) I also tried to convince my doctor to perform a natural cesarean where I could watch her birth and and have immediate skin to skin. It's semi new, but it IS being done here in Montgomery. I was immediately shut down by my OB because "that's not protocol."
I had nightmares about c sections (I'll spare you the details). I would scream out in my sleep. I dreamt that someone stole my baby at the hospital because during a c section there is a long period of time that the mother is without her baby. I would cringe at the thought of having another child. I struggled to be excited about our dear sweet baby girl. I was depressed. I suffered from panic attacks, and was overall miserable. I did not want to hear Isabelle's heartbeat. I was mad at her for being in my womb. I was mad at God for making me go through this again, and I hated my body for failing me twice before.
I arbitrarily posted in a local facebook group one day about my experience. I felt as if I was suffering from PTSD (I was) and wanted to connect with other moms who had gone through something similar. Almost immediately a (now) friend took me under her wing. She proclaimed it was possible to have a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans). She knew because she had achieved it! She recommended her OB, Dr. Jennifer Logan. Dr. Logan is one of two doctors in the Montgomery area who will attend a VBA2C.
I battled with it. I did. I didn't think I could do it. I didn't think it was possible. I didn't think it was safe. I had believed everything that I had been told about VBACS and how supposedly dangerous they are.
I began to educate myself. I dug deeper. I connected with a doula who helped steer me towards legit research. Did you know that a repeat cesarean is actually MORE dangerous than a VBAC? Look it up, I swear! www.vbacfacts.com The more I learned, the more excited I got about our Isabelle. The more I felt God's hand on me and his peace and provision during what would otherwise be a scary time.
So, I made the jump with my supportive hubby by my side. We got ourselves a doula, saw Dr. Logan, and are making preparations for a natural, unmedicated VBA2C. I feel empowered. I feel strong. My body is incredibly capable of birth. My body CAN do this - despite what anyone says. We have educated ourselves (yes, both of us) and have become passionate about natural birth. We practice pain management with our rebozo, and I have been spending time on my exercise ball. I am preparing my mind, body, and soul for the marathon ahead. My husband has been incredible, he is just as excited as I am.
Now, I know just as well as anyone that plans can go awry. And for that, I pray God's hand is upon us and keeps us safe. I know that things can change quickly during birth and my plans may fall through. I know that I will be in a hospital fully capable of an emergency situation. I'm also willing to submit to what is natural and what my body knows to do. I trust the creation because I know the Creator.