After a traumatic C-section with my first birth, I wanted so badly to have a healing HBAC (Home birth after cesarean). I worked hard to heal emotionally from my first birth, build a supportive team, and make my health optimal for the birth I wanted.
My contractions began in the early hours of January 21, 2017. I was 41 weeks and 5 days. They were irregular and manageable. Once the sun came up, I notified my team to give them a heads up, but continued working through the contractions and preparing the house throughout the day. It was very exciting to set up the birth pool and make sure everything was in place for the birth. The night of the 21st I was still having irregular contractions and tried to sleep in between them.
The next day, the contractions were still irregular so I went about my day, going on a walk with my family and letting my daughter play at the playground. I would lean on my husband during the contractions for support. That evening I decided to call my team to join me at my house as the contractions were getting stronger. I labored through the night and into the next day. On January 23rd, I was 42 weeks and still laboring. I was in and out of the tub as the baby had moved down and I felt pushy several times.
In the early hours of January 24th, the team and I had a discussion about what we were going to do. We were all very tired, but we decided to push through and try to get the baby out. We tried many positions and techniques to move the baby down but to no avail. When I began to lose my confidence and worry about my health and the health of my baby, I decided to transfer to the hospital hoping to get an epidural, some rest, and continue with a vaginal birth. While I showered and got packed to go to the hospital, the team cleaned up, removing the birth tub so I could return to a clean house. I called my mother to come be with my daughter and left for the hospital.
Once we arrived at the hospital, my blood pressure had risen to dangerous levels, and the baby was not responding well initially. When the doctor arrived, he said that he did not support me continuing with a VBAC, and recommended a C-section. I was devastated, but knew that even if I tried for a VBAC at that point it was highly likely that I would not be successful without the support of the doctor and staff. After about 80 hours of labor I was exhausted and I consented to the surgery.
The surgery was not as traumatic as my first C-section initially, but after the baby was delivered I became very nauseous and started convulsing. The anesthesiologist gave me Demerol and I went into a deep sleep which caused me to not remember the first hours of my son’s life.
Ultimately, I feel better about this birth and was less traumatized because I was able to make choices that I was not able to make with my first birth. I am very grateful to the team of women who supported me and my wishes and made my pregnancy and labor beautiful and memorable. I’m also grateful to my husband for giving me our two beautiful children and supporting me in my quest for the birth I felt was best for our baby.
Words to Melissa.
“You gave birth. From the beginning, you threw your heart into this. You set out on a journey, and you bravely met each challenge along the way. You accepted the unknown. Like most stories of our lives as women, this journey didn’t follow a straight line, and the messy spots didn’t always resolve neatly. It was more like a winding path that circles around and around, revisiting old scenes, gradually revealing more and more of who you are, and who your baby is. Full of love and courage, you kept taking steps. At each bend, you owned it. I have never met a braver person. I am honored to witness your journey. Even though the way this story ended wasn’t the way you’d dreamed and planned, the journey was beautiful – tender and painful, yes, but full of courage and grace. It was a journey for you, yes, but also a journey for Torin, who arrived whole and full of life. You are truly the perfect mama for him. As I weep with you for the disappointments, I also celebrate you both! What’s at the end of this maze-y journey? I don’t think it ended. I’m so glad to have gained you as a friend. Love you always.”
Rachel Andresen, Certified Professional Midwife
“I joined you on this incredible journey the first time I met you at a Birth Circle Meeting. Listening to you tell the details of your first birth, the raw pain from my c-section took my breath away. It all came crushing back and with it, came the moment of healing when I delivered my daughter via VBAC. I wished that relief on you with all that I was and dreamed of the day I would capture it. It has been such an honor to be by your side through the last year of excitement, preparation, fear, undeniable strength, and most importantly, the growth and healing that has at times overwhelmed us both. You have held me up at what have felt like my weakest moments while showing me that those were actually my strongest. I will always be there to do the same for you, my friend. I treasure your friendship and spend every day in awe of your spirit.”
Tammy Karin, Birth Photographer