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My VBA2C Story

After 2 C-sections, I had the natural birth of my dreams

I thought c-sections were genetic

I always thought my ability to give birth was genetic. My mom had 3 C-sections, but my cousin had 2 babies naturally.

With my first baby, Mikaili, my gynae induced my labour on my due date. She was worried about the baby because “the amniotic fluid was dirty”. I didn’t know what that meant but it didn’t sound good. 12 hours of labour later, lying on a bed and strapped to a foetal heart monitor, I was wheeled in for an emergency C-section as baby was in distress and there was no sign of him dropping.

I fell pregnant 9 months later and this time I decided that I’m going to take my birth into my own hands, and I will do things my way. I was much better researched at this point. After a few bad gynae experiences, I decided to go for a midwife, who recommended a backup gynae she would be comfortable working with. We went through my history and she monitored my pregnancy throughout. At 36 weeks, she referred me to the said gynae for me final check-up before clearance for me Vaginal Birth After C-section (VBAC). I was still very confident that my body could give birth naturally and was able to, but the gynae discouraged the idea and in fact looked to my husband, Neo, and warned him of the risks of my birthing Morgan naturally so soon after a C-section. While Morgan’s birth might have been clinically successful, I found it psychologically and emotionally challenging. I prefer being in control. I don’t fare well when someone does not walk me through their reasoning but dictates to me. I felt powerless in that situation. Depression set in shortly

after a direct consequence of allowing fear to become part of the process, along with having my sense of ownership of my body taken away. I also struggled with a slow-to-heal scar and shortened breastfeeding. I thought to myself… Never again! I’m never allowing someone to dictate my body again and I never want to be in a position where I don’t have more questions to ask and not be able to interrogate a decision. Even if I am in the wrong, I am worthy of clarity and peace with the end result.

Taking back my power

My feelings and convictions became even more definite after my first consultation with my gynae to confirm my pregnancy with Malik. We did the scan and went to sit opposite him at his desk in his consulting rooms. After looking at my file, my gynae looked over at me and said, “So we’ll be performing a C-section, we’ll decide on a date closer to the time and then we will be tying your tubes”. I think I lost my breath in that moment. You know that feeling when someone says something, and you were NEVER ready for their utterances, but you knew it was coming? After remembering to breath, I looked back at him and responded, “I’d like to have a TOLAC[1] for a VBA2C[2]”, I could tell he was visibly upset but also annoyed at my audacity to ask. He simply told me it would be “impossible”. But this time, I’d done my reading. I had 5 years to decide, do my research and educate myself – his protest and my knowing better only strengthened my resolve. I knew I had to take my power back. But my husband, on the other hand, was terrified. He was scared that I would die in the birthing room. My husband is a numbers guy and to convince him of anything, I had to give him the possibilities, probabilities and numbers. So, I knew that he might be swayed if he saw for himself that the dangers were no greater than with a C-section. My efforts paid off, and hubby agreed for us to give natural birth a try. Now the hunt was on for a willing and qualified midwife who had a good track record. This was not easy at all. I found out that Johannesburg’s leading VBAC specialist had recently passed away – I was feeling resignation as no gynae would endorse a natural birth after 2 C-sections without a midwife with the experience. I also learnt that gynaecologists don’t want to have to sit around, stand around and monitor you throughout your labour especially when you are high risk (which I was categorised as because of two previous C-sections).

Eventually, however, after some Internet searches and rigorous Facebook searches, I found a Pretoria-based midwife who has an amazing success rate with *VBAC procedures.

We scheduled an appointment and had to wait two weeks before seeing her. We knew instantly that she was the right person to guide the process on our first appointment. She answered all our questions, even Neo’s query about whether she had ever lost a baby or had a failed *VBAC with honesty, with compassion and love.

Labour Day

Malik’s nine months passed uneventfully, though with a whole lot of nausea and morning sickness. On the day before Malik’s due date, I went for her final check. When I was told that everything was progressing well and as it should, I surprised at all: I was empowered with research and knowledge, I had visited a chiropractor throughout the journey to make sure my body was properly aligned for labour, I had visited a reflexologist to help me relax into the process and listen to my body. He was dropping and he was ready. On my due date I went into my midwife’s rooms and she gave me the option to wait out labour or have a stretch and sweep. Though, a stretch and sweep does not guarantee baby will react immediately. Malik reacted to a stretch and sweep, and I realised this as I was doing some last-minute shopping straight after the appointment, I realised that I was in labour and returned to my midwife’s practice rooms.

The next few hours were weird because though they felt so natural and proceeded exactly

as I wanted them to: sometimes I walked, sometimes I bounced on the birthing ball, sometimes I listened to music, they were strange and were far off from past experiences.

I entered into the warm waters of the birthing pool – the most incredibly beautiful experience of my life, discomfort and labour pains and all. The oxytocin flowed in the room, it felt like home, I felt safe, loved and encouraged. My husband, Neo, went from nervous to scared to anxious all in a 6-hour span. But the marvel is how my body was in the lead all throughout. It knew what to do, how to breath, what it needed. Although my midwife was on hand to guide and advise, check the dilations (the worst part of the labour journey), it was my body and consciousness that said, “I’m ready” and my midwife then patiently spoke me through the pushing, and Malik made his entrance.

I delayed my cord clamping and we just sat there and absorbing each other. I got out the bath and onto the bed where we lay just the three of us, my husband, Malik and me.

Recovery

We went home the same day, much to my relief. I couldn’t wait for Malik to be in our home space and to have him all to myself.

My doula and midwife team were so great and reminding me and walking me through the breastfeeding, latching and first bath.

The recovery journey for Malik was easier, I had a few stitches to tend to by simply taking care of that area and rinsing the perineum area with some salt water and sitting on soft surfaces as much as possible.

As for the question of more children, well at least my tubes aren’t tied… We’ll see.

 

[1] *TOLAC – Trial On Labour After C-section

[2] VBA2C – Vaginal Birth After 2 C-sections

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