My step-sister, Michele, had her first baby via cesarean birth. She was set up for an induction, and after many hours she heard the label "failure-to-progress." To the brain, induction sounds good -- let's get this show on the road. The body doesn't always have the same plans, especially when a woman hasn't had a baby before. Even with the medications and procedures offered, the body may not make fast enough progress for the medical establishment. In these situations, a cesarean birth can become necessary.
With her next baby, Michele wanted to try a VBAC. She chose a doctor who was comfortable with vaginal-birth-after-cesarean (although it required her to travel to a bigger city an hour away), and dreamed and planned for her son's birth. As Michele's confidence grew in her body's ability to birth her son vaginally, her fears of the pain and work of labor didn't ease. In order to cope with these intense feelings, she made the decision to get an epidural pretty early on in labor.
Last summer Michele learned her family would grow yet again, and this time she was determined to step it up even one more level -- try for a VBAC with no pain medications. Although she chose her same doctor, she did make one change - she decided she wanted a doula to accompany her and her husband during this birth. That's where I come in!
Every baby and every birth is different, and this was no exception. Michele's labor seemed to drag on and on and on this time. I ended up at her house at about 3 am. It felt a lot like a slumber party, and we let her incredible husband take a nap in bed while we laughed and swapped gossip and stories. I knew we should try to get some sleep, seeing as how any time labor could pick up and we would all be exhausted, but we were truly having too much fun. We finally decided to try resting, but Michele wasn't really able to get any sleep.
The next day (or later that day) found us still puttering around their house, playing with the kids, watching movies (Puss in Boots, Toy Story, something else, I think, and then Baby Mama!). We were still waiting for labor to start rolling...we really had no way to plan for the baby-sitter, or my mom to travel to the hospital -- oh, and Michele's little sister just happened to be flying in that night, of all nights! And my mom was going to pick her up in the event we were off having a baby (Murphy's Law!).
At one point during Baby Mama I had Michele stand through a contraction in a deep lunge position, and I asked her to switch to the other leg during the next contraction. It seemed after that, Michele's contractions really started to pick up. That silent energy that so often comes when the invisible switch flips on inside the mama was humming around us. Michele was buzzing around, calling the baby-sitter, pulling together the kids' supplies, finding her shoes! It was finally time to go!
We climbed into the car, Michele in the back seat and her hubby at the wheel (I had shotgun) and we hit the road. After about 75 minutes we walked into the hospital. There was a woman ahead of Michele in line, but the receptionist could tell Michele needed to be the priority! They quickly got us a room and let Michele start doing her thing. After an intense 90ish minutes of labor, Michele was holding her new, sweet baby girl!
And it was intense! Michele was amazing. She coped in many effective ways. She moved around and changed positions. She verbally told us what she needed. She even prayed outloud (although she said at the time she thought she was praying in her head). I know it is hard to prepare for the unknown urgency of how labor feels, and Michele was able to take each contraction one at a time, focusing her attention on her loving hubby or me -- sometimes both! so she could keep her head above the water of the labor-waves instead of being tossed and turned about in the surf.
I can't say how proud I am of this mama and her decision to seek something different in our not-very-supportive VBAC society. The fact that she challenged herself even more by deciding to work toward a birth free from pain medications is something I am also impressed by. It is scary to do something you have never done before, and armed with support and education, she not only set the goal, she achieved it. Michele, you are amazing! I admire and love you tons, and I will always remember the power and beauty you shared on the day your sweet little R was born.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)