Jules Michael’s Birth Story

May 20th 2008

***Disclaimer – This is incredibly long and detailed, but I hope that the following story could serve as a bit of inspiration to any woman who ever finds herself in my situation. Reprinted with permission.

Thursday, May 15 was my last day of work before maternity leave.  I went in that morning in great spirits, though on the train ride in I was feeling a few contractions, pretty typical of what I had been feeling for weeks.  At 8 am, I sat at my desk joking with my boss about how many times I’ve felt contractions that turned out to be nothing.

At 8:30 am, I felt a pretty painful contraction that was definitely unlike any others I had felt.  Then, I felt a little ooze, but I assumed I was imagining it.  I went to the bathroom, and there was my mucous plug!  I have never been so excited to see something so gross!  Since my first birth was an induction at 41 weeks with absolutely zero signs of labor, I was so thrilled to see my body showing the “signs.”

I had another hard contraction on the way back from the bathroom, so I stopped by my boss’s desk and said “um… I may need to leave soon… I’ll let you know.”

I sat back down and painful contractions started immediately.  I figured I’d try timing them and sure enough, they were 3 minutes apart, 60 seconds long.  I was still able to talk through them, so I called my aunt to have her keep me company on the phone and distract me while I counted them.  I decided to count them at least until John got to work at 9 so I could tell him if anything was happening.

By the time he got in at 9, I told him I thought we really needed to leave.  Shortly after, He came over to my desk and we took a look at the train schedule to figure out which train would get us home.  I had wanted to labor at home as long as possible before going to the dreaded hospital.  As we sat there it became very clear that the contractions were so hard and close together that there was no way we were going to make it home.  Since we were already downtown, the hospital was only a half hour cab ride away.

We went downstairs and flagged down a cabbie (who was NOT thrilled about letting a laboring woman into his cab.)  We arrived at the hospital somewhere right around 10 am, and at that point I could not talk at all through the contractions, and there was almost no break between them.

Holly, our doula, met us there.  The resident checked me and said I was completely effaced, 0 station, but only about 2 cm dilated.  Right away we got me into the shower to try to ease some of the pain, but the hospital shower was more like a cold water closet – absolutely no relief at all – so I only stayed in for about a half hour.  The nurses were supposed to be getting the tub ready for me, but they never got around to it.  Once I got back to the bed, the contractions were so hard and fast that I was yelling through them and the urge to push was unbearable.  Holly couldn’t believe that I was only at 2 cm when I was having transition-type contractions along with the urge to push, so she ran out to get someone to check me again while I was screaming in pain.  We all thought I had to be in transition, but when they said I wasn’t even close, I started begging for the epidural.  I wanted to go without it because I knew it would complicate my delivery, and my previous epidural experience was awful, but I just couldn’t bear that much pain for another minute.  I was starting to lose it.  Of course, I felt so guilty because I wanted to do this naturally, and I was so scared that it meant the beginning of the end of my “attempt” at VBAC.  I felt like a failure in front of Holly, but she was great about it and said that she didn’t blame me one bit with the type of contractions I was having and it being so early.  I couldn’t have lasted like that for another 8 cm, and I’m so glad that she made sure I didn’t feel weak for giving into the pain management.

At 1 pm, I got the epidural, and within a half hour I started to feel like a human being again.  After that, labor actually got pretty fun!  John, Holly and I all sat around joking and talking while I painlessly had contractions every 3 minutes, and by 6 pm I was at 7 cm dilated and +1-2 station.  I was so excited that I was so close.  I kept joking that if labor would be like this, I’d have ten more kids!  Then, a bunch of my family showed up and the roomful of people started to get really overwhelming.  I started to forget why I was even in the hospital at all.


Let me say that until this point, baby’s heart tones were completely perfect, and my body temp was a steady 99 degrees.

At 7 pm, the staff shift changed, and that ended up being the beginning of the bad news.  The new resident came in to check me and said I was at 5 cm.  I said “but the last doctor just said I was 7 cm – did I go backward?” He said “No, that can’t happen.  She was wrong, you were never at 7 cm.”

I instantly became very sad and discouraged.  5 cm was all I got to with my first labor, and I suddenly felt so terrified that my body couldn’t dilate past 5 cm at all.  When he left the room, Holly reminded me that yes, a woman can go temporarily backward, which I knew from all my reading to be true. Then, my actual OB came in to see me for the first time and started telling me that we needed to consider augmenting my labor or giving me another c-section.  Then I started getting panicky.  I could see where this was going.

I told him that I wasn’t interested in that – he knew that because he had my birth plan – and maybe all the commotion from the visitors made me lose focus, and that I just needed to refocus my energy back on my labor and get things rolling again.  He told me that my “focus” had nothing to do with it and I probably just wasn’t able to get past 5 cm.  I said that one of the doctors told me I was 7 cm, and he also said “she was wrong.”  Even though I was scared of that being true, I told him that I hadn’t had enough time and I was not going to even consider giving up so soon.  He said something about him having been there “all day” and wanting to go home, so I told him he better go on home and come back to check on me in the morning because I wasn’t going to end my labor just because his day was over.  Things started to get heated and I couldn’t believe I was even having that conversation.  It was obvious that he was annoyed with me, but I didn’t care.  So then he started with the scare tactics – “but the baby is becoming tachycardic” and “your water has been ruptured for more than 8 hours, you both might get an infection.”

I told him that Jules heart rate had been perfect all day (which he should have known) and it was only getting a little higher because I was getting stressed out.  I needed to be left alone so I could get back to laboring.  He rolled his eyes and said he’d be back in the morning.

So, because the official pressure was on, John, Holly and I all put our heads together and got back to work.  Holly left John and I to be alone so we could reconnect and do some nipple stimulation.  John and I sat in the dark for an hour or so just being together, and things definitely picked back up again.  At midnight we decided to call it a night and start fresh in the morning.  John slept, but I couldn’t.  I laid awake all night long staring at the fetal monitor, talking out loud to Jules and asking him to please keep his heart rate baseline below 160.  It was amazing the way he responded to me.  His heart rate baseline went back to normal and stayed that way all night long.  I was so proud of him for hanging in there with me.  I felt like my baby and I already had a real connection.  We were a team.

The next morning at 6 am, I had my second wind and was ready to get the show on the road.  I woke John up and told him to get himself fed and cleaned up so we could seriously get our game faces on.  Holly was back and ready to go, so our spirits were lifting.  The resident from the night before (the same one who told me I was 5 cm) checked me and said I was 6-7 cm.  So, that at least meant that I had progressed 1-2 cm overnight while doing nothing but laying flat on my back.  I felt like this was great news, but just then a nurse came in who completely ruined our mood.  She asked me if I had considered Pitocin to get things moving.  I told her I wasn’t getting Pitocin, and she started arguing with me.  This is the nurse, by the way, a person who has absolutely no right to advise me medically one way or another.  She said I should think about getting the baby out healthy, and I told her he was healthy.  I watched his heart tones all night long and he was perfect.  Then she said “Well, I’ve seen fetuses with good heart tones be born with APGARs of zero” – meaning dead.  I got pissed.  I couldn’t believe this woman just tried to throw a “dead baby” scenario in my face, especially when nobody is in any danger. John could tell I was getting really upset again (who wouldn’t?) and he jumped in and told her she needed to stop.  She tried to apologize, but it kept coming out like “well, I don’t mean to upset you – BUT…..” Thankfully, once we got her out of the room I didn’t see her again for the rest of the day.

Around 10-ish, my doc came back and said I’d had enough time and he wanted to do an internal pressure catheter.  I told him I was making progress and he said I hadn’t because I had been 7 cm since 5 pm the day before.  Now, that didn’t even make sense because he was the one who agreed with the resident the night before that I had never gotten to 7 cm.  Now he was saying that I had “stalled” at 7 all night.  He was getting very heated with me and kept trying to say that I needed to listen to him.  He said that my uterus – I kid you not – “just might not work” so I needed to have a c-section.  He said I’d had enough time and my “trial of labor” had failed.  He said it was a case of “failure to progress” at which point I shot back “No! It’s a failure to WAIT.”  He wanted to do an internal pressure catheter to measure the strength of my contractions, and if they were adequate it would mean that they obviously weren’t effective so I needed to be sectioned.  The other side of the coin was that my contractions were inadequate, which meant that he would give me 6 hours for them to become adequate or I needed to be sectioned.  Well, I didn’t like either of his scenarios.  I told him I just needed for people to stop stressing me out and let me labor.  He thought I was being “reckless.”

After 10 minutes or so of arguing back and forth, I told him I just wanted more time.  He left in a huff, and came back about an hour later with another doctor, telling me he had spoken to every doctor at that hospital, along with a doctor from another nearby hospital, and the hospital administration and I only had one of two “options.”  I either had to sign the c-section consent form, or sign a “Waiver of Liability” meaning that the hospital was no longer liable for whatever happened to me and the baby.  I couldn’t believe he was standing there threatening me.  I know my rights, and I told him so.  Nobody could force me to sign anything.

John asked them to leave the room so we could discuss our options, and total panic took over the room.  I started bawling and pleading to Holly and John that I just could not have a c-section.  They both knew that, but I just needed to cry.  I was having a complete breakdown.  Here I am in labor, and more sad and scared than I have ever been in my life.  I know all my legal rights, and I knew the hospital could not force me to sign either one of those forms.  We started thinking about ripping all the IVs out of my arm and just leaving the hospital.  We started trying to call local chapters of ICAN to see if anybody could offer any advice (nobody ever called us back.)  I alternated from sobbing to shouting angrily.  I tried to think of any lawyers I knew who I could call for instant representation, or at least advice.  I couldn’t believe that there I was, having to deal with that while I’m trying to birth a baby.

An hour later, the doctor came back and told me time was up and I had to sign something.  I told him we were making phone calls and until I knew what the best thing to do was, we weren’t signing anything.  Insert more crying and panicking for another solid half hour until I just made up my mind that I wasn’t letting them bully me for one more second.  I was too upset to even try to keep talking to them so I told John he had to handle the situation, so went into the hall and talked to the doctor.  John basically told him that I wasn’t signing anything, and that’s all there was to it.  The doctor then said that I was pretty much asking for my baby to be born with “cerebral palsy,” and started scaring John into submission.  He spouted off “statistics” to John about everything that may go wrong to cause us to have an unhealthy baby.  Well, I am not a statistic.  I am a human being who deserves to be looked at as an individual, and not some number.  John came back in to report what was said, and it was clear that he was starting to buy into what the doctor was saying.  I reminded him of all we knew about these scare tactics, and that we could see the fetal heart monitor for ourselves.  There was absolutely no reason to be concerned about the baby at that point.  The only problem with the baby was that his mother was being forced to fight a legal battle during her labor.  Through my tears and anger, I convinced John that he had to get out in that hall and go to battle for his wife.  He wanted a VBAC just as badly as I did, but he was cracking under the pressure, and I just couldn’t have that.  I needed him to be strong at that moment more than I ever needed him before.

John left again – and Holly just sat with me while I sobbed.  She was a rock throughout the entire debacle, and she reminded me that I wasn’t being reckless at all.  She reminded me of how much I loved my baby and that I wasn’t going to do anything to put our lives in danger.  Then she asked me what my ideal outcome would be.  Holly is great at breaking up the clutter, forcing you to think, and getting back to the big picture.  I told her that my “ideal outcome” would be for the doctor to magically decide to leave me alone and let me labor on my own until I had the baby vaginally, no matter how long it took.  Of course I knew that was highly improbable, but it was good to refocus on my goal whether or not it looked like it might happen.

In the middle of all the fighting, my in-laws came to the hospital with Jonas, my older son. My whole face was swollen from crying so much, and I was an emotional mess. Well, when I saw him, I broke down even more because I thought “Here sits this perfect, beautiful, healthy boy who came into the world by c-section. He’s FINE! Why am I fighting so hard to have a vaginal birth?!?! I’m so selfish! Who cares how my baby comes out!! I’m going to end up hurting us both because I’m so stubborn!!” After that I made them take Jonas away because I didn’t want him to see me in the shape I was in. Right at that moment I almost called the doctor in and told him to go ahead with the section. But, when I thought about those words coming out of my mouth, I got angry again and kept on fighting. I knew I’d regret that c-section, and the pain would only be doubled. I also knew that I owed it to Jonas and Jules both to get my VBAC so their mom could get her head straight again.

But then, John came back with surprising news.  The doctor had finally cracked, admitting to John that Baby’s heart tones weren’t worrisome, and said that he’d leave me alone to keep laboring as long as I promised to let them intervene if anything did become worrisome.   I couldn’t believe it.  I was so relieved, but so still so scared at the same time.  John had found a way to make the doctor understand how important the VBAC was to me, but at the same time I wasn’t trying to be a martyr.  He managed to convince the doctor that it wasn’t some personal attack on him, and that what I needed more than anything was for everyone to stop putting such an excruciating amount of stress on me so I could just do my thing.  Somehow, John’s words worked, and the doctor softened.

John brought the doctor in, and he tried to make up with me.  I cried my eyes out when I tried to explain to him how important it was that I didn’t leave that hospital with another uterine scar wondering what could have been if only I’d had a little more time.  I promised him that I would be open to the cesarean if it became obvious that was the only choice.  I made him understand that I had no intention of hurting myself or my baby, but there was no way I could submit to a surgery that wasn’t medically necessary at that point.  Then, he left me alone to get back to business.  He was obviously still annoyed with me, but I think John helped him perhaps feel a slight bit of empathy for me too.

By that point, it was 2 pm on Friday and contractions were down to 10 minutes apart. I sat and concentrated on breathing to bring my heart rate and the baby’s heart rate back down.  John and Holly agreed that I needed to take a nap and start fresh when I woke up.  Holly ran home to take care of a few things, and we all just tried to settle in to change the tone in the room.  I didn’t feel like I could nap, but I knew that somehow we had to put a break in the day and change the energy in the room.  At that point all I could do was sob and I knew if I didn’t change my mind frame soon, things were going to get very bad.

Just then my friend Kelly called and said she was stopping by.  It was so nice to see her, and she really helped distract us from the hell we had just been through.  She stayed for a couple hours before she had to go to work, and by the time she left we were feeling a lot better.  I thought maybe I could take a nap then, but as Kelly was leaving, my friend Kathryn (who was in town visiting) called to say she was stopping by.  I did get concerned for a second that I was getting distracted, but luckily those two friends are the most low-maintenance people I know, and they were both really helping to relax me.  Right before Kathryn got there, Holly came back with some fresh things she’d learned about stalled labor.  She said that my cervix may have swollen from sitting up, so I should try alternating laying on my sides to bring down the swelling.  She had also suggested a few times that I turn down the epidural so I could feel things, and I finally listened to her then.  I was really afraid of feeling those horrible contractions again, but I knew she was probably right. I laid down on my side and then Kathryn came in.  We all just sat and talked and slowly the mood of the room shifted.

At around 5:30 pm, contractions started getting pretty intense.  I went from being able to carry on a conversation with Kathryn, to needing to stop and breathe through each rush.  Then it steadily became more and more intense.  Within an hour I was feeling full labor again, and contractions were long and strong.  They checked me and I was at 8 cm.  Progress!  Then the pain got worse, and worse, and then 9 cm!  Pretty soon I was screaming again and having the unbearable urge to push.  I asked for another little shot of the epidural because I was so scared of the pain.  I begged them to check me because I didn’t want to push if it wasn’t 10 cm yet.  After what seemed like an eternity, the resident checked me and said I was “complete” so I could start pushing!  Kathryn asked me if I wanted her to leave, and I told her no.  I was so glad she was with there with me.

At 8 pm, I start pushing.  At first the pushing wasn’t very fruitful because I had made the mistake of getting more epidural.  I couldn’t feel the rushes as strongly, and the urge just wasn’t there like it had been right before I got the epidural dose.  For about an hour, I pushed without a whole lot of progress.  I was still so terrified that my pushing was going to fail and they’d call for a c-section – after all that work. Then I changed positions, and right about that time the epidural started to wear off.  The more I could feel, the more I realized that I felt like Jules’s head was stuck on something.  As the pain became unbearable, I started screaming for them to send in the doctor to see what could be done to help get the baby down.  When my doctor finally came in, he realized that Jules was almost out, but I was pushing against an anterior lip (a little part of my cervix was swollen.)  Pretty soon, the room was filled with equipment and people; the stirrups were out, and the doctor was in position to catch the baby.  I had always hated the idea of pushing on my back, but there I was – feet in stirrups and nurses holding my legs back – pushing as hard as I could while the doctor yelled “PushPushPushPushPush!!”  All I could think of was what I knew about that being the least effective position to push in, but I was literally in no position to do much about it.  And as I laid there pushing as hard as I could, I was still terrified that the doctor was going to find some reason why I wasn’t pushing good enough, and call for a c-section.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything except how scared I was of something going wrong, and I knew that I had to get the baby out before the doctor invented another reason to section me.  I was watching Jules’s head come down in the mirror, and begging myself to get him out.

After 5-6 more contractions, with about 4 pushes each, Jules was born at 10:01 pm.  As I sit here writing this, I still cannot believe it’s real.  The nurses put him on my chest, and John cut the cord.  I laid there in total wonderment while the doctor stitched up my 2nd degree tear.  I finally passed the placenta 45 minutes later, and the whole 38-hour ordeal was finally, finally over.

Within a couple hours I was up showering.  The difference in recovery between a vaginal and cesarean birth is like night and day.  We left the hospital 36 hours after Jules was born (the earliest possible moment that they’d let us go) and at only 3 days postpartum, I feel almost completely back to normal.  No, I feel much better than normal.  I feel like Superwoman.

The sheer thought that I got my VBAC, after 2 years of c-section depression and a 38-hour hard fought labor, is completely overwhelming to me still.  I wish every woman in the world could experience this feeling, and I hope all other women in my situation are able to have their VBACs too.

Jules Michael
10:01 PM – May 16th 2008
9 Lbs, 10 Oz
21 Inches Long
Apgars: 8/9



Now that you’ve read my battle – read my advice on “How to Have a Better VBAC”, which includes links to some learning resources, and links to some beautiful VBAC stories.

Or, read my VBAC Story retold via these sources:

Julie Deardorff at the Chicago Tribune tells my story here in “Fighting for a VBAC”

• Chelsea R. Robbins and Allison Stevens of Medill News Service share my story in “Women Struggle to Avoid Serial C-Sections” with audio of me telling part of my story.

Rita Rubin, a USA Today reporter, tells my story at the NIH VBAC Conference, March 2010

The Hyphenated Husband shares his version of the events in a YouTube video.

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110 Responses to “Jules Michael’s Birth Story”

  1. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Good for you! Congratulations both on the birth of your son and for advocating for yourself. No one should have to advocate for their own health in a hospital, that’s what the staff is supposed to do.

  2. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Congratulations on your VBAC!
    That was AWESOME how you stuck to your guns, and wouldn’t let anybody bully you. I applaud you for that! The sad thing is–you shouldn’t even have to do that!! Those doctors actions,”I have been here all day, etc”…are sickening!!!! BTW, I am surprised (and a little annoyed) that no one from ICAN called you back! What chapters did you call?
    It’s really sad a woman has to fight like this in the hospital to birth the way she wants. You said over and over you were scared/upset etc….you shouldn’t have to feel that way in labor. And the doc saying being stressed out isn’t a cause for stalled labor? BULLSHIT!!!! What an asshole. Either he is stupid–or he KNOWS it’s true and lied. Unbelievable behavior.
    Gina, may I use your birth story on my website? It’s called BirthCut (www.birthcut.com). Mothers (and Fathers) submit cesarean and VBAC birth stories, art, poetry, videos,etc. Just let me know! You can just email a copy to michele@birthcut.com if you’d like.

  3. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    I am a lurker who has subscribed to your blog since you left the DDC on IV. I just wanted to say congratulations on the VBAC birth of your son. I am thrilled you were able to achieve what you wanted. You are a very strong woman and I admire that. Good luck!

  4. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    I just came across this and wanted to say Congrats!!! Way to go standing up to yourself and getting your VBAC!

  5. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Wow. I’m awed both by the incompetence of the hospital and by your strength and determination.

  6. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    In a moment of vulnerability you had the reins and took control, no matter how bumpy the ride was.
    Also, I was dubious about hiring a doula who was not a midwife as well, which is a common combination in my current neck of the woods. After reading everything that you posted about the subject matter at hand, I will say without even having to think about it very much that the doula was a VERY good choice and between her and your husband (and the arrival of many others including Kat.), your support team not only kicked ass but was even better, even stronger than what many “normal” folks get.
    As quickly as possible, I want to discuss something that I noticed that you probably know already. You had a traumatic C-Section which you’ve been trying to deal with. The way you acted during labor as well as before birth (to a lesser extent) is probably a reaction not just to how you were being treated, but there seemed to be things that would trigger a certain reaction or thought from/within you.
    Speaking from experience, I’d place some $$$ of saying that you have been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. While I’m not a professional, I’m pretty certain. You should research this just a little bit as in PTSS can get very complicated, thus it can be difficule to explain. This research also might help to lead you in the direction of dealing and overcoming your previous C-Section.
    Think triggers. I would guess that you have some “triggers” that cause a certain type of reaction out of you. By discovering these triggers, how they affect you/make you react, and what goes on inside your head, you can deal with your traumatic C-Section and possibly overcome it.
    You have every right to have the feelings that you do concerning your previous C-Section, but it has (probably) in some ways taken over your life– even if only a little bit. Overcoming it and moving on (even just a little bit) will mean that the C-Section will be dealt with and just be something that has happened in the past that is not right and totally sucked but yet you will not let it control you anymore.
    I’m not a preacher nor am I a professional, but I do suffer from this disorder (as well as many other people , including soldiers from Iraq I and II and others who have gone through all sorts of horrible incidents) and I was able to relate with you not just woman to woman, but I was also able to relate to your reactions and thoughts. I am also not “cured” and there are those who have been just way too f-ed up to ever be “cured”, but being able to live out of the shadows into sunlight is a light load to carry. **sorry about length. I tried to keep it short but my mind thinks to much and will not let this happen**

  7. Sarah Haberstich | Profile
    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    If I weren’t at work, I’d be bawling right now. Thank you so much for fighting the good fight for all of us who hope for a VBAC–you know that’s my plan as well next time around.
    I can’t wait to see you and give you a big hug and meet the new little bugger. Yay for John for staying strong, yay for you for staying strong, yay for doulas helping couples stay strong. Hopefully we’ll be on our way to having a 2nd one sometime soon to keep our families on track with one another.
    I miss you much. Congrats.

  8. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    A friend linked me over, and I am teary reading your story – so proud of you, but also so angry that you had to fight. Congrats on your little guy, and you VBAC!

  9. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Holy cats, woman, you are a tower of strength. So glad you and Jules are doing well. What a battle story!

  10. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    You are so awesome! So many women would have crumbled, which is understandable, but you stood strong. I wish every woman birthing in a hospital could read your story so they could have a blueprint of how to manage those oh-so-helpful medpros!

  11. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    You’ve been featured on Five Star Friday:

  12. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    You are amazing!!!! I am a VBAC mama too (and then an HBAC) but I didn’t have to deal with any of this. You are a joy and inspiration

  13. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    All I can say is wow! I am so amazed by your strength and determination.
    Congratulations on your new baby boy.

  14. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Congrats on your VBAC, I was linked here for another site, what a marvelous story and one I’m sure would have been extremely similar to my own had I not had a wonderful OB staff my first time around with a 120+ hour labor. I can’t believe you were so strong to stand up to everyone while being in labor, what an inspiration.

  15. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Congratulations on your VBAC! Would you please email me as I would like to know what ICAN chapters you called, so I can follow up with them, I’m the Chapter Director for ICAN. I apologize sincerely on behalf of our mother-volunteers that did not return your call, and I assure you that we work to keep this from happening.

  16. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Congrats! I am so shocked that your Dr. actually admitted (probably by mistake) that part of his motivation in wanting to do a cesarean was that he had been in the hospital all day and was tired of sitting around. If he’s tired of sitting around, here is a thought:
    Get a different profession.
    You did a great job, sorry it had to be so stressful! Enjoy your baby, don’t strain your back!

  17. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Congratulations! You sound so triumphant! What a great job. I must say it seems almost like a miracle to me that you managed to triumph and have a vaginal birth when you were dealing with so many pressures and hostile situations. It is incredible what women’s bodies can do, even when faced with serious challenges working against them.
    Best wishes and congratulations again!

  18. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Congratulations, in a BIG way! It takes immense courage to do what you feel is best for you and for your child in the face of that kind of pressure; you and your husband really are inspiring.

  19. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    My friend sent this story to me, because I was her doula & her labor was about 33 hours… yours was 5 hrs. longer & all I can say is WOW!!!
    You are a real go-getter & isn’t KNOWLEDGE a powerful motivator??!! I am so glad you were informed. Without that info, you would have been cut again, for sure!!
    These two comments struck me as profound:
    ******He said something about him having been there “all day” and wanting to go home, so I told him he better go on home and come back to check on me in the morning because I wasn’t going to end my labor just because his day was over. ***********
    – good for you!!!
    ********He said that my uterus – I kid you not – “just might not work” so I needed to have a c-section. He said I’d had enough time and my “trial of labor” had failed. He said it was a case of “failure to progress” at which point I shot back “No! It’s a failure to WAIT.” *******
    -That is smart, smart, smart!
    Your story has once again, after being at 5 vaginal births, one a VBAC, made my faith in women’s bodies/minds to connect with their child & do what they need to have their baby in the least harmful way possible!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Kelly Kravitz, CD
    Doula Surround, VA

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    WOW!!!! You are an inspiration to all VBAC mamas out there! I hope I have as much courage as you displayed in that hospital!!!
    Congrats on your beautiful baby!

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    I’m in doula training right now, and I’m headed for my workshop to become certified this weekend. Would it be ok with you if I shared this story with the women of my workshop? More of us should feel the power like your Holly did. What an amazing story. The three of you (John, yourself and Holly) all worked toegether to create such an amazing birth. Happy baby moon mama!!

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    I’m glad you were able to birth vaginally, and SO SO SO VERY angry you had to fight so much. That kind of stupid battle is exactly why we had our second baby at home. Funny thing… it turned out that anything they could have done for us in the hospital would have increased the risk, not decreased it. And yeah, I had a couple docs give me “dead baby” stories when I told them I was doing it at home.

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    Wow! Congratulations mama! How wonderful that you fought for yourself, your baby and the birth you wanted! You should be proud.

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    Thank you so much for posting your birth story! I really appreciate you sharing your strength with us.

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    Your story has tears in my eyes and has given me hope for my next pregnancy. Thank you so much.

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    What awesome strength you have! Congratulations to you and your family on your new addition.

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    Oh my God!! Thank you so much for posting this. i was completely there with you on that emotional roller coaster. I felt like shouting hooray at the end! I’ve never been prouder of a complete stranger in my life. C-section is my biggest fear right now, and i’m so inspired by the way you and John stood up for your right to birth the way you want! and with such aggresive Medical practitioners, you deserve a medal!!

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    I just wanted to thank you so much for posting this story. I had my second child, an unmedicated in-hospital VBAC, on 5/19, and your story is everything that I was afraid of about a hospital birth and a VBAC, and you are just SO STRONG I can’t even believe it. You are such an inspiration, and so amazing. Congratulations on your son and your birth.

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    Hi! I’m Holly’s mother and I just wanted to say how inspiring and awesome it was to read your birth experience. It amazes me how much pressure the medical profession puts on laboring women – especially the scare tactics. Holly was born in a hospital but her two younger siblings were both born at home. I count myself fortunate to have been able to give birth twice without all that pressure and interference. Once again, you did GREAT! Congratulations on your newborn!

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    You are unbelievable! I can’t even really put into words how happy I am for you for fighting hospital procedure the way you did. I’m blown away! Congratulations!!!

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    Congrats on the VBAC…and your new little guy! The one hospital in my town where women can actually give birth wont allow VBACs at all, at least that is the word on the street. Very inspiring post.

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    I’m kind of going through this same ordeal. Although I’m 35wks pregnant and not in labor etc. I’m still battling with my doctor about this VBAC. Your story is COMPLETE inspiration because as of last night I was backed into a corner of either delivering alone at home or being subjected to an inevitable csection at a hospital.
    I’m still weighing my options and definitely schooling myself in a homebirth if, come Thursday, after talking to my doctor about how she needs to change her attitude with me, if that doesn’t turn out at least I know I’ll for sure be safe at home- although I would rather this first VBAC to be in a hospital although the hostile environment does NOT make me feel well at all.

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    Your story is sad, amazing and inspiring all at once! It’s sad how freaking hard you had to fight to get a normal birth- even though there were no solid reasons for the pressure the staff exerted on you for a C! This is what I fear when I try for my VBAC. I did not have pain relief during my labor and I think that made me more vulnerable to the pressure for a cesarean, especially when they pulled the “dead baby” card on me. Bravo to you, and thanks for a beautiful story.

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    you are one strong momma! and your son is a very llucky boy to have you!

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    I just want to say that you are a hero and a inspiration to me! I am going for my 1st VBAC this October and I’m so afraid of going through what you did. But after reading this my fears have almost completely subsided. You are absolutely wonderful and have given me even more hope than I’ve had throughout this pregnancy. Congratulations on your VBAC and most of all on your beautiful new baby. ((hugs))

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    You go, girl. What you wrote about being in what I like to call the “stranded beetle” position for pushing is EXACTLY what I experience with my babe. Things just happen and all of a sudden – hey! You’re in the precise position you promised yourself you wouldn’t be. Thank you for sharing your courage and determination with all of us – because of your story, I think I’ll be a little more gutsy next time in insisting – my way or the highway!

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    Congratulations on sticking to your guns. You knew what was right and didn’t let anyone make stupid decisions for you! I had a similar experience with the birth of my second son – I started as a homebirth and transported to the hospital, where I got to have a lovely fight with the doctor who thought vbacs were “never safe”. :) It makes me mad as hell to hear about doctors who do such awful things to women – lying through their teeth to scare us into submission – but it is fantastic to hear about women who stand up to them. Good for you!

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    You go girl! As Ina May says: Your body is not a lemon!

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    Here are some thoughts, coming from the L&D nurse viewpoint: (do not get angry with me please, these are my thoughts and opinions!)
    10am – Admission at 2cm after only 2 hours of labor – too early for admission. Could have gone home for a few hours, to labor more at home. I understand about the pain of labor – and how much it hurts (I’ve had 3 children), but staying at home is better when in early labor.
    1pm – epidural placed – any change to the cervix? If still 2cm, this was too early for an epidural, in my opinion. Some might say yes, get the epidural. The epidural will help the mom to relax and for dilation to occur. Others say no, it’s not active labor yet if the cervix isn’t changing. It all depends on how much pain you’re having, and how you’re coping. Just know that once you get that epidural, you are open to complications and needing to have more interventions possibly. Labor can stall or stop completely after an epidural. You have an increased risk of needing labor augmented. Risk for epidural fever – which can lead to maternal infection or sepsis – which can lead to baby becoming septic.
    6pm – 7cm and +1 to +2 station – normal temp, normal fetal heartrate. All good! Were position changes implemented at this point to keep cervical progress? If baby is asynclitic or posterior, extreme side to side position changes will help baby rotate, and cervical changes to continue. Bladder status? Use of bedpan or catheter? Keeping bladder empty (via Foley) will help keep baby descending, and allow the cervix to continue to dilate. Risk with Foley is bladder infection postpartum. All interventions have pros and cons.
    7pm – new resident MD. 5cm. Moving backwards versus prior MD not correct in cervical exam? Woman full of FEAR – failure to progress —- fear can slow down or even stop labor. Negative talk from MD — more fear in woman. Discussion of pitocin. MD wanted to go home – additional stress on mother to have c/s. Discussion of being ruptured for 8 hrs. What time was rupture? 0800 when that leaking happened in the bathroom at work? How is mom’s temp? Still normal? If temp is normal – no fear of infection after only 8 hrs of rupture!!!!
    Time? — nipple stim started. Contractions increase.
    Midnight – family slept. Woman fearful, watching monitor all night. Fear, once again – will stall out labor.
    6am – 6-7cm. Pitocin discussed by RN. More fear placed into the woman.(UGH!) What was mom’s temp through the night? Was baby’s heartrate good through the night?
    10am – MD wants IUPC placed.
    11am – MD and 2nd MD give ultimatum.
    12pm – MD back. Husband arguing with MD.
    2pm – contractions decreased to every 10 minutes. Once again – lots of fear in mom.
    ?Time – doula suggests position changes, due to possible cervical edema. Epidural level decreased — excellent idea!
    530pm – contractions stronger. 8cm — then 9cm.
    ?time – 10cm – urge to push. Epidural reinjection — not a good idea at this time, will inhibit pushing abilities.
    8pm – pushing
    1001pm – baby born
    45 minutes later – placenta. Frankly, I’m surprised the MD waited this long for the placenta! Surprised he/she wasn’t pulling on the cord to yank it out.

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    Thank you for the excellent play-by-play! I’m absolutely not angry at you offering your insight. I’m dying to see my medical records to see if they say anything remotely similar to this, or if it’s filled with the doctor’s skewed view of the events. This is VERY helpful for me.
    #1 – I wanted to go home. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible (and hopefully even have the baby there), but I went into labor at work, which was a real complication. We work downtown Chicago and take the train to work – so I would have been fully laboring on a train to get home, and I honestly didn’t think I’d make it there – and the hospital was only a short cab-ride away from our office. That is the only reason I went there… I couldn’t stay where I was, and home was too far away. But seriously, the hospital is the LAST place I wanted to be.
    #2 – I’m fully convinced that I needed to start pushing right after I got to the hospital. No, I was not fully dilated, but my bodies urge to push was unbearable and I believe it was telling me something. I couldn’t not bear down with each contraction. I mistook that as a reason to get numbed up, when I really just should have let my body do what it needed to do.
    #3 – MD WAS yanking on my placenta. It was HORRIBLE pain. I didn’t know what he was doing to me but it hurt like crazy, and I was begging him to stop and leave me alone. He finally stopped and backed away, and I just cuddled my baby until I felt another contraction and swish! – out came the placenta.

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    You should request your full medical records. They may or may not help give you answers to your questions. I can fully understand your desire to want to stop the pain, when you are feeling such a strong urge to push. It almost sounds like the baby’s head was very far down in your pelvis, straight from the beginning. It is almost impossible to try to stop from involuntary pushing when the head is so low. Been there, done that! That happened to me during my 2nd labor, starting at 7cm. Total involuntary pushing. Could NOT stop it.
    I can understand the desire to not consent to pitocin augmentation. However, and I don’t know if this was suggested, sometimes just running low dose pitocin through the night, or over several hours will help augment the current contractions, and allow your body to pick up the pace with the contractions, and help dilation progression. Like I said before, once you go forward with an epidural, the clock really is ticking, due to the risks involved with prolonged use of an epidural. You really need to do something, at some point, to work at keeping labor progressing. Nipple stim, low dose pitocin, position changes, turning down the epidural – something.

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    I was 100% against Pitocin because I knew the data on Pitocin/augmentation and Uterine Rupture in a VBAC. Pitocin is contraindicated in a VBAC. I did not want to do anything that would compromise my VBAC plans.
    I wish someone had told me that starting the epidural would put me on a clock. I knew I didn’t want to be “watched” and that I wanted to labor for as long as necessary. The problem is that nobody tells you the risks/benefits/alternatives of ANY of these procedures. It’s just “here’s what we’re going to do” and that’s that. Honestly, I just couldn’t take them insisting on asking me where I work when I was in the middle of a contraction. Here I am, trying to move around, trying to labor, and the nurse is insisting that I answer the hospital’s stupid banal questions about my address and place of employment when I can’t even breathe (let alone think or talk). I was pre-registered too!!!!
    I once read a blog where a woman said “Epidurals are for putting up with the hospital.” I’ll never think of them (or hospital birth) the same way again.

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    Pitocin is actually not contraindicated with VBAC. It’s the cervical ripening agents (prostaglandin gel, cytotec, cervidil) that are contraindicated with VBAC. The cervical ripening agents have less control over the dosage and being able to stop them, once they are placed. Pitocin, however, has a wide range of dosage, and is metabolized very quickly from the body once it’s stopped. I believe it’s about 7 minutes via the intravenous route. Pitocin with VBAC is possible – but is used very lightly and judiciously.

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    I think that is a matter of opinion because I have read differently. When I’m on my computer at home I will locate my sources. In fact,some doctors and hospitals in this area have strict policies against using Pitocin in a VBAC candidate. I was given a copy of these policies when I was interviewing potential providers for my next pregnancy.
    Also, I’m still asking the question: why not remove/decrease the epidural when it’s clear that it has stalled a labor – instead of throwing more Pitocin (and an eventual c-section) at the problem? In my business, if we know something is making a mess out of something, we fix what’s broken. We don’t continue to pile other “treatments” on top of something until it breaks the whole machine. Why can’t any medpros answer this question for me? What is the purpose of causing a c-section when you can combat the problem by simply removing the known source of the problem? I don’t see any possible justification.

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    I had answered this question in my comments in my blog: we don’t turn down epidurals because the majority of the women that I offer this to are terrified of the pain, and do not want to feel that pain again. Even if it’s just an increase in the pressure/pain, but not full blown labor pain again. It’s the mentality of the patient population that I serve: they expect full 100% relief of labor pain with that epidural. If you take away their pain relief, or offer to take away part of their pain relief, they would rather have a c/s.

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    Also, here is a recent analysis of induction agents and uterine rupture with VBAC (I have the full PDF file if you would like to read it):
    There is limited information detailing the risk of uterine rupture associated with the nonpharmacologic or mechanical means of labor induction in women with a prior cesarean. More specifically, there are no reports of risks associated with membrane stripping or amniotomy. Intuitively, by consideration of the mechanism of action, stripping of membranes and amniotomy would not suggest an increased risk of uterine rupture compared with spontaneous labor among these patients.
    Four studies are found in the literature describing the use of a transcervical Foley catheter for induction of labor in a patient with a previous cesarean. The most recent investigation, by Bujold et al 17 in 2004, describes a review of 2479 patients who had a trial of labor after a prior cesarean delivery. Of these, 1807 patients had spontaneous labor, 417 were induced by amniotomy with or without oxytocin and 255 had labor induced by placement of a transcervical Foley catheter. The rate of successful vaginal delivery among the 3 groups was significantly different: 78% versus 77.9% versus 55.7%, respectively. The rate of uterine rupture was not increased: 1.1% versus 1.2% versus 1.6%, respectively. There was also no difference in the rate of scar disruption noted at the time of cesarean for a failed trial of labor. These authors concluded that labor induction using a transcervical Foley catheter is not associated with an increased risk of uterine rupture when compared with spontaneous labor. However, the rate of successful VBAC after mechanical cervical ripening with a transcervical Foley catheter seems to be lower than cervical ripening with other agents.17 Another concern is that despite its size (2479 patients), this review still lacks substantial power to detect true differences between these induction techniques.
    Oxytocin is the pharmacologic agent used most frequently for induction of labor. A systematic review of 7 studies of labor induction with oxytocin compared with spontaneous labor among patients with a prior cesarean found no significant difference in the incidence of uterine scar disruption. Of the 8572 women reviewed, 1163 received oxytocin for labor induction whereas the remaining labored spontaneously.18 Separation of the uterine scar was experienced by 0.83% and 0.62% of the patients, respectively (OR: 1.43; 95% CI 0.76, 2.69) (Table 1). On the basis of this review, oxytocin is believed to be relatively safe for induction or augmentation of labor in women with a prior cesarean.
    Prostaglandin E2 (Dinoprostone)
    Sanchez-Ramos also performed a meta-analysis of investigations detailing cervical ripening and labor induction in patients with a prior cesarean. Of 19 studies reviewed, only 1 was a randomized controlled trial. The incidence of uterine scar disruption, including symptomatic uterine rupture and scar dehiscence, among pregnancies that used prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) (dinoprostone) for cervical ripening was 1.65%. More specifically, 10 studies compared the incidence of uterine scar separation among 1682 PGE2 exposed patients and 11,097 patients who entered labor spontaneously. There was no difference in scar disruption among women who received PGE2 for cervical ripening compared with those who were admitted in spontaneous labor (1.6% vs. 1.23%, OR: 1.46; 95% CI 0.96, 2.22) (Table 1).18 It is noted that the rate of uterine rupture (1.23%) associated with spontaneous labor in this meta-analysis is relatively higher than in other published data. Supported by subsequent studies not included in this meta-analysis, the pooled data suggests that cervical ripening with PGE2 in women with a prior cesarean is also a relatively safe option.
    PGE1 (Misoprostol)
    Misoprostol (PGE1) has documented efficacy and is inexpensive and convenient for use as a cervical ripening agent.19–23 When compared with placebo, misoprostol is associated with decreased oxytocin requirements and achieves higher rates of vaginal delivery within 24 hours. Many studies also demonstrate similar results when compared with PGE2 preparations.24
    When given in doses of 50 mcg or more, misoprostol has been associated with an increased rate of uterine tachysytole and meconium passage.19 Some studies have also suggested an increased risk of cesarean due to persistent hyperstimulation.25 In contrast, clinical investigations using 25 mcg of misoprostol have not described increased rates of the above adverse events and have proven to be as effective for labor induction as PGE2.26
    In the Sanchez-Ramos meta-analysis of cervical ripening and labor induction in patients with a prior cesarean delivery, 12 reports including 355 patients attempting VBAC via induction with misoprostol reported a 4.5% rate of uterine scar disruption (Table 1). A similar result was also identified among 3 studies comparing preinduction cervical ripening with misoprostol to spontaneous labor.27–29 The incidence of uterine separation was higher in women who received misoprostol than in those admitted in spontaneous labor (5.4% vs. 1.3%, respectively).18 In addition, the rates associated with misoprostol cervical ripening and induction are significantly higher than rates reported with other prostaglandins or oxytocin.
    Probably more revealing are recent investigations describing these risks among larger patient cohorts attempting a trial of labor after a prior cesarean. In 2001, Lydon-Rochelle et al 14 in Washington state described a population-based retrospective cohort analysis of 20,095 women with one prior cesarean. The investigation assessed the risk of uterine rupture for deliveries in the following categories: spontaneous onset of labor, induction by prostaglandins, induction by other means, and repeat cesarean without labor. The authors found that among women with one prior cesarean, the risk of uterine rupture is higher with induction of labor compared with repeat cesarean in the absence of labor. More specifically, uterine rupture occurred among 0.16% of patients having a repeat cesarean without labor. With spontaneous labor, 0.52% experienced uterine scar separation compared with 0.77% induced without prostaglandins and 2.4% in women induced with prostaglandins. When compared with the risk for women with repeat cesareans without labor, uterine rupture was 3.3-fold more likely among women with spontaneous labor (Relative risk (RR): 3.3; 95% CI 1.8-6.0), 4.9-fold more likely with induction of labor without prostaglandins (RR: 4.9; 95% CI 2.4-9.7) and 15.6-fold more likely with induction of labor with prostaglandins (RR: 15.6; 95% CI 8.1-30.0) (Table 1).14
    More recently, less ominous results were found in a multicenter prospective observational study of more than 17,000 deliveries after a prior cesarean at 19 academic centers. This investigation was published by Landon et al 12 for the MFMU Network. Spontaneous labor was associated with a 0.4% rate of uterine rupture. With augmented labor, 0.9% of patients experienced uterine scar rupture (OR: 2.42; 95% CI 1.49-3.93) and 1.0% of induced patients were similarly affected (OR: 2.86; 95% CI 1.75-4.67). When prostaglandins were used for labor induction, the rate of uterine rupture was 1.4%. When compared with the risk among women having an elective repeat cesarean, the risk of uterine rupture was 2.42-fold more likely with augmented labor, 2.48-fold more likely among patients who were induced without prostaglandins, and 3.95-fold more likely with induction of labor with prostaglandins (Table 1).12
    The study by Lydon-Rochelle is limited by its retrospective nature. The data were derived from vital statistics and administrative records. Labor was considered to have been induced with prostaglandins if “induction of labor with prostaglandins” was marked and the corresponding ICD-9-CM code was used. An alternative ICD-9-CM code was used to reflect “induction of labor” without prostaglandins. The authors have minimized the risk of inaccurate documentation by using the corresponding ICD-9-CM code. Nonetheless, with birth record data, there is always the concern of inaccurate coding or incomplete information.
    The results favored by these authors are those of the MFMU Network study. Although the investigation does not identify the specific induction agent for individual uterine rupture risks, the data is strengthened its large size, the multicenter design, and the prospective process of data collection by trained obstetrical research personnel. In this study, augmentation of labor with oxytocin and induction of labor with and without prostaglandins were associated with a significantly greater risk of uterine rupture than was spontaneous labor without the use of oxytocin. The highest risk was associated with labor induction by prostaglandins. The risk of 1.4% was substantially lower than the 2.4% found in the retrospective vital statistics data reported by Lydon-Rochelle and significantly lower than the results reported in the meta-analysis of Sanchez-Ramos (Table 1).
    In conclusion, the presence of a uterine scar in a pregnant uterus is not without risk. Both elective repeat cesarean and spontaneous labor can be associated with uterine scar rupture or dehiscence. The data available, however limited, deem oxytocin and PGE2 to be relatively safe for labor induction. As discussed, we feel that the large prospective data from the MFMU Network is the most accurate analysis of the inherent risks associated with labor induction in a scarred uterus. These conclusions are made despite the inability to differentiate specific induction agents.

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    There is a woman in my ICAN group requesting induction rather than a 3rd cesarean – no doctor in the area will agree to induce her. I’ll pass this information along to her and see if this helps her case at all.

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    Not that it would help that woman’s case, and it’s probably too late now, but I’ve had two oxytocin induced VBACs which my OB based on the same information above. I’ve truly found that the medical response to a VBAC is very dependent on what area of the country you’re in. Fortunately for me I’ve had very understanding and helpful OBs.
    Congratulation to you on your strength in getting the healthy VBAC you deserved. Labor alone can be pretty overwhelming, but having to go through it with so much opposition is very impressive.

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    My goodness, yes! I can’t believe all you went through and still… success. My hat is off to you.
    I forwarded this to my husband so he’d kind of know what we might be up against. I’m ruled out of homebirth because I’m pregnant with twins, and I’m starting to lose faith that the doctors will support my choices. There’s a significant chance that my doctor will be unavailable to me and I’ll be at the mercy of some doc I’ve never even met.
    I know that Wagner’s “Born In the USA” has a table showing that the rupture rate goes from 1 in 200 to 1 in 100 with oxytocin augmentation. I’m off to the Cochrane database to see what else I can find.

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    Now I remember where I got my “pitocin is bad” information from
    Specifically Wagner produced a table in Born In the USA which provides sample rupture rates:
    1 in 33,000 – woman with unscarred uterus
    1 in 200 – VBAC without augmentation or induction
    1 in 100 – VBAC with oxytocin augmentation
    1 in 43 – oxytocin induction
    1 in 20 – Cytotec induction
    Pitocon+VBAC = evidence of increased risk of rupture.

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    Awesome birth story! Way to go, way to get your VBAC. Your husbands is awesome too, for convincing that doctor to let you continue laboring. I had both my babies naturally at home because I was so afraid of having to go through what you did WHILE IN LABOR (hello, can they cut you a break?). You are a total hero. Congratulations. I found you via a comment you left on MU, in case you were wondering.

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    Gina, I only just read this today, after seeing it linked from the screenplay at http://www.unnecesarean.com/blog/2008/11/18/on-todays-playbill-ginas-vbac-story.html
    This is remarkable. I’m so glad you did it and shared your story. I hope that sharing it helps you to find meaning in the cesarean you had as well, in that it’s such an inspiration!

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    I also applaud your grit and glad that your final result was what you had hoped, although the hoops you went through are crazy…
    I also wanted to share a bit of my story with you.
    With my first I was in Ontario Canada, and planned a midwife hospital birth. After 9 hrs of ACTIVE labour (9:30 pm) – (following 9 hrs of PAINFUL prelude) I was measuring at 3 cm, whereas I was 7+ cm 2 hrs previous. My midwife said that she had to consult with the OB (because of the rules in that area), but that she could guarantee he would send me for a c-section. She recommended that I just lay down and wait – she worked on paperwork, left the room, worked on more paperwork, called for the epidural, and we waited – while I used nitrous oxide during the most crazy painful contractions I had through the whole process. I started telling anyone who would listen that the baby was coming – when my midwife heard me tell the third person she said “Should I check you again?”. I nodded while sucking back on the Nitrous Oxide… She did and the baby was crowning – there was a fury of activity as she called the second midwife, and she got things ready for delivery. During my 15 min of pushing the ‘Epidural Guy’ arrived, and was told that he missed his opportunity and to take a hike! At 11:54 pm my son was born.
    That is my story of going backwards, and escaping a c-section.
    Currently I am pregnant with my 4th. My midwife knows that in the realm of a live birth a c-section is my worst case scenario. Subsequent midwives have not been intimidated by the prospect of my going backwards based on my history. I have often wondered if my first midwife stalled on purpose… Also I have always been given a copy of my records when I was discharged…
    Thanks for the inspirational story :)

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    Substituting one intervention for another is definitely not the answer. Allowing a woman to spontaneously labor in the most natural and intervention-free way possible is. As a practicing homebirth midwife since 1982, I have found that every time (and I do mean EVERY time) I have attempted any kind of intervention, complications have arisen. The attempt of VBACs in the hospital is seldom successful for the many reasons listed in the story. Beginning with admission and continuing right on through discharge, intervention of every kind is rampant. Even with evidence-based information given to MDs from their own professional organizations and publications, they refuse to follow those guidelines. This poor woman’s answer is not induction. It is finding a practitioner (and I don’t mean a doctor) who is supportive of her choices and concerned for her safety and the baby’s safety and will truly not intervene until intervention is truly necessary.

  55. emsijane@yahoo.co.uk | Profile
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    Hi there!
    I’m Emma, your long lost VBAC sister! You commented on my birth story on Lisa Barrett’s blog…. and you were right, very similar stories! Although yours was so much more intense! The horrible ob in mine yelled a bit, stormed out and luckily never came back – you had to fight so much harder and for so much longer. Your strength astounds me. I’m sitting here with tears running down my face because I know what it’s like and it is so wrong to be put in that position whilst labouring!
    Well done for bringing your beautiful child earthside and for reclaiming your birth. I am so proud of you and me and the stories we have to tell! Lets hope other women learn from our battles and know they have CHOICE.
    xxxx Emma

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    I cried at the end. I am so impressed that you were prepared for the scare tactics and were able to respond. I was faced with these tactics during both of my labors. I cannot believe that this has become the process of how birthing women are treated. I progressed to 9.5 with my first baby and then got talked into a c-section when his heart rate was dropping and I had not progressed for 7 hours.
    The second time, I had to defend my VBAC decision so many times. Then, when I was fully dialated and just waiting for some epidural to wear off so I could push, the doctor ( a young woman with two little ones of her own!) started in with the “I don’t know…” type attitude. I couldn’t believe she discouraged me instead of encouraging me during pushing. Nuts, I tell you.
    Your post is really a fantastic service to anyone researching this issue.

  57. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Congratulations on your VBAC! You deserve a medal. You & your husband fought hard for your VBAC. I am so proud of you both for not giving in to bullying & scare tactics.

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    Such an awesome story! I’m going to have share it with my husband, as some days I’m quite worried we’ll have to fight too. Gah.

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    Dear FeministBreeder,
    Thanks for your comment today on the NursingBirth blog, http://nursingbirth.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/the-ol-bait-and-switch-or-finding-out-your-ob-has-been-leading-you-on/#comments – I appreciated your link to your own VBAC story- what a fighter you had to be, too! I’m so glad that your husband and doula helped you through this, and so amazingly proud of you for your success in the face of such callus medical staff!! It’s good to know we are not alone in our struggle and that what we want is not crazy! I am strengthened by your story!! Thank you for sharing it!

  60. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Hi Gina, I am having my vbac any day now and I come to your blog daily for courage and inspiration.

  61. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Good luck to you Agustina – you can do it! Please come back and tell me all about your VBAC!

  62. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I'm still waiting.. getting very cranky.. still not understanding my c section *sigh*

  63. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Love your blog, found it when I learned I was pregnant and started looking for “natural thoughts”.
    So as I surf the web, I had a thought. What is the c-section for horses? I am having trouble narrowing down the hits, but I found this one site.
    At first I thought it was a joke, because it was kinda funny. At first. Then, I was, well I don’t know what to think. Thought you might get a kick out of it too.

  64. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This post is amazing. I’ve just learned about your blog today and this is the first post I’ve read – a perfect introduction to your life, your heart, your power. I’m so happy for you, even though your son is nearly two years old now, this story give me encouragement, empowerment and hope. You’re kick-ass, woman!

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    Omg. I thought I had read this before but apparently not. I had no idea your vbac was so crazy! Mine was not easy but I was at least supported by my healthcare providers the whole way through. This has been an inspiration to me as I prepare to birth #3 in March. (((((HUGS)))))

  66. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I found your birth story at


    and just had to comment… I have read it somewhere else, I am sure… maybe on ICAN? Anyway, I just cry every time I see it. It makes me go through all the emotions. I feel excitement to hear you are going into labor, anger and disbelief at the insanity you had to face, awe at your courage and determination, hope for my own VBAC…

    I just want you to know you are an inspiration to me and I am sure to many others.

  67. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you for your story! One of the (many) reasons we’re waiting for #3 is to attempt a VBA2C (2 c-sections in less than 2 years). Congrats!

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    Glad to hear you were able to get the VBAC you wanted. Sounds like a tough labor. Sounds like the docs involved were not very in tune with what you were going for, but I think some of their comments were not necessarily off the mark from an obstetrical point of view. I’m glad it worked out well for you though.

    Pitocin does increase rupture rate from about 1/200 to 1/100 in VBACs. Its not contraindicated on that basis, but I avoid using it when I can.

    As for cervical exams – its not as easy as you think. It takes people a good year of training to be consistent with their exams and to match up with the exams of others. Ultimately the test has has high inter-observer and intra-observer variability, meaning that it can vary in result between examiners and between exams from the same examiner. Having a different exam between two different examiners is not so unusual, though it is more of a problem when one of the examiners is inexperienced, which residents are early in their training.

    Congrats again.
    .-= Nicholas Fogelson, MD´s last blog ..High Tech Mosquito Destruction =-.

  69. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I am bawling reading your story…..My son was born almost 3 years ago by c-section. I had wanted an all-natural birth, and I almost did it. I labored for 24 hours – 9 of which I was pushing, and he just would not come down the birth canal, he got stuck at a -1 station. Even though I knew then, and know now, that a c-section was the only option left for me, I was devastated by it. Now I am pregnant with my second child, another boy due in 2 months, and my plan is still the same, all natural. In order for this to even happen, I have to avoid our local hospital because they “discourage” VBAC. Meaning, although they can’t FORCE me to go under the knife, they will make me fight every step of the way, while I am in labor, and I just don’t want to take that battle on.

    I applaud you and admire you for sticking to your guns. The scare tactics that doctors and nurses use with laboring women are unethical and immoral. I praise you for standing up for what is right.

    Thank you for your inspiring story. I am printing this out to take with me to the hospital, and will be looking into the laws of my state more clearly to know for myself what they can and can not “force” me to sign or submit to.

  70. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Great story. I’ve had 2 successful VBACs and just want to encourage everyone that it CAN be done!


  71. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Inspriration is an understatement. Thank you so much for sharing your story. As I plan to have a second child by VBAC, I will attempt to channel your guts and glory through it all. Wow, what a beautiful portrayal of your experience.

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    Just amazing! I am so happy it turned out the way it did… I look at my 2 and 6 year old girls and wonder what will things be like for them in the future? It takes a lot to stand up to people like that under those circumstances and you have my utmost respect. I will be attempting my first homebirth with a midwife (paid for out of pocket) this summer (our 5th kiddo!) because I didn’t want to give a dime, not even through insurance to the OB/GYNs at the office I was going to and didn’t want to search in the middle of my pregnancy for someone who even had an inkling of what I was looking for in a birth experience. After my last visit with them, I told them my births have traditionally progressed very rapidly. Because I live 45 minutes from the hospital the first thing the doctor recommended was that when I got close enough they could just go ahead and schedule an induction. This is the exact mindset that lends itself to unnecessary c-sections and after being blessed with 4 healthy, normal deliveries and the fact that I never would induce for convenience, I didn’t want to risk it considering the chances of having a c-section with these kind of people around me. At least this way I know I’ll have the support a woman deserves (which I’m so sorry you didn’t!) and every opportunity to let my body work the way I know it does and I’m supporting a great midwife in the process! :)

  73. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Congratulations on your triumphant victory. I was a victim of two unnecessareans with my first two children, four years apart. My third I decided to not give the doctors the option. After 8 years of thinking I would never get to have a natural birth, I embarked on my HBA2C journey. Our third child was born at home in our own bathtub after a long and difficult but well worth it 36 hour labor. Thanks to ICAN and a fabulous birth team for showing the way and helping me through it! :)

  74. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Congratulations!! I am so happy for you. What a nightmare the first birth must have been (mine was too, although thankfully no c-section) and what a beautiful victory for the second birth!! I’m so happy for you 😀 I am so thankful that my next 2 were born at home! The second one the midwife wasn’t even there on time (I was so afraid I’d have to go to the hospital again and I thought is was going to take so much longer than it did that he was born before she got there!) The third one my husband didn’t really want to catch again without a midwife 😉 Labouring and birth can be so beautiful I am so happy you could experience it too! Congratulations and thanks for sticking up for your labouring and birthing rights! Good for you 😀
    .-= Kimberly´s last blog ..Favourite Papageno and Papagena Duet =-.

  75. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It gives me so much hope- I am in the throes of the same c-section depression. I had my (perfect and amazing) daughter by c-section, and it was also a completely unnecessary surgery. It was because they wouldn’t give me more time (my water had broken). I was at a birth center, I was totally unprepared for how quickly they threw me to the wolves. Anyway, I am going to fight like you did and have a better birth next time! Way to go, Super Woman!

  76. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I’m totally in tears. I admire you for fighting the good fight. I had a C section (unnecessary) in 2008 and if we ever have another child, I hope to be half as brave as you.

    Thank you for telling your story!
    .-= Grace at Arms Wide Open´s last blog ..I know I’m a mom because… =-.

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    I’m late to the party…but I went the Bradley classes/Doula route and 27 1/2 hours later (23+ hours of that completely natural), I ended up with a c-section…I still wonder if I could have made it. I doubt, I cry and I had to mourn the delivery I wanted for my daughter. Reading your story makes me wonder if I didn’t wait long enough and that my natural alignment plateau was really, really long (like yours obviously was). I do hope for a VBAC in the future. If you’re like me, you are inspired by birth stories. Here’s my daughter’s…


  78. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I sit here reading this entry with tears streaming down my face. I had a vaginal birth and a c-section for my first set of twins and the recovery for me was as horrible as it could have been but it was painful. I am now having my second set of twins and your story has given me the strength to try for a vaginal delivery. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story because it is truly inspirational. I can honestly say that I was probably going to have a scheduled c-section because I scared of having both a vaginal and c-section delivery again. My doctor is more than supportive, he’s a midwife and certified lactation consultant but even with him telling me it is possible to have a successful VBAC, I needed to hear it from another woman. Thank you so much again and I’m so happy you stood up for yourself.
    .-= Gabrielle´s last blog ..Labor & Delivery =-.

  79. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    What a story! I know it’s a few years old now, but it still resonates so strongly.

    My son arrived five weeks early, which according to the staff at the hospital where I delivered, is in a very special window. Before 34 wks, staff there will do all they can to stop your labor… and after 37 wks, they’ll do everything they can to speed it up! Well, at 35 wks, I was left to labor, and labor, and labor by myself… meaning I was at it for a whopping 55 hours. But I did it! My little one was born vaginally with 45 minutes of pushing, and I could not be prouder of the two of us. It was hard, hard work, and I was absolutely exhausted, but I would HATE to think of doing all that and then being told I wasn’t progressing, and be subjected to a C-section.

    Lady, I salute you! You were extraordinary in the face of such terrible opposition, and every feminist cell in my body just clapped for you.

    Tina´s last blog post… New Look!My Profile

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    I love how committed and aggressive you were about getting what you want. Even though I have a strong personality, I’m scared of getting caught up in the moment and not trusting my instincts or standing up against the professionals. Your story is very inspiring.
    Janine´s last blog post… Cover Girl Smoky Shadow Blast ReviewMy Profile

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    Sister, you are a warrior. Congratulations on your incredible victory. We can only hope that your commitment to birthing will have changed some of the ideas of the people who were there in that hospital with you. Thank you for being so strong.

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    Hey there. I got her from MOSW and I just wanted to let you know that this was one of the most wonderful and compelling birth stories that I have ever read. You are an amazing woman. At the end I had to suppress the urge to stand up and cheer.

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    Girlfriend, I have one word for you: homebirth. My second son’s birth was so much like your VBAC. With my third son’s birth I decided I wasn’t going that route at all. It was, from day one of the pregnancy, a whole different experience. Why are women going to men to give birth? We need to rethink this as a culture. I gave birth at home and yes it hurt. But it hurt a lot less than fighting with nurses and being strapped to a bed, trying to cope. And without all the fear mongering my labor was only 3 hours long. Then I got up and got into my OWN bed. The problem wasn’t you, it was you fighting the system. It’s the system that’s corrupted and we need to opt out of it whenever possible. Homebirth takes trust. Trust in yourself to give labor, trust in your womanly body’s ability to give birth. I would like so much to see THAT message being sent more clearly from the feminist movements. This lack of trust in our innate ability to birth is the very opposite of feminism to me (and I know this isn’t the message YOU are sending, but in general what I’m hearing ‘out there.’) Like this idea that mothering and birth are so 1950’s and something to be risen above when in reality our whole problem revolves around the birth culture that arose in the 50’s. Even the whole culture of “risk” of homebirth, pitocin, etc is all hospitalspeak aimed at calculating insurance values. This stuff runs so deeply in our culture that it gets difficult to extricate the fear from the reality.

  84. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is an awesome story! I commend you for standing up to the medical staff and going with your body. I wish that I would have educated myself better in the area of labor when I went through the birth experience myself. I had allowed the doctors to give me pitocin (which I would not have chosen had I better educated myself on that particular drug) which caused such painful contractions that I finally begged for an epidural…….thus my labor was sped up unnaturally..
    amaranthe´s last blog post… 5 amMy Profile

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    I’m currently pregnant with #2 and hoping for my own VBAC – your story is amazing!! The way you and your husband stood up to the doctors is inspiring – it is my biggest fear with this pg – I know that isn’t my forte.

    My c/s with my son led to the most beautiful thing in my life being born, but also to an emotional roller coaster where I have felt failure, disappointment and the closest thing to depression I’ve ever had to experience. This pregnancy has made a lot of those feelings come back, and it’s inspiring and gives me hope to hear stories like yours.

    Thank you for sharing. It is so helpful to hear successful VBAC stories.

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    I had my beautiful baby girl in April of 2009. I ended up with a c-section and have felt like an utter failure since. My husband is still convinced that her head was too big — that’s what he uses to explain 42 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing and finally a c-section. I think I was just rushed by the pitocin, the epidural and a doctor who scared me. I really want a VBAC, and I’m really scared that the doctor didn’t sew me up correctly and I’ll end up with a rupture if I attempt one. But, I really need to try. My doula is/was amazing and is encouraging me to try when I get pregnant again. But, like the previous poster — the c-section threw me into an emotional rollercoaster that I’m still recovering from. My sister-in-law just gave birth to her first child at home after 4 only hours of labor, and it has opened up all these wounds that I thought were healing.

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    Congrats that you were able to get what you wanted, and needed, out of your labour and birth. My daughter was born in 2005 via C-section. I was 21 and knew nothing about delivering a baby, so when they induced me and then said “fetal stress,” I was willing to do whatever they said. I had my son in December of 2009 and had looked at VBAC as an option. I talked to several people about it and was told there wasn’t a hospital in our city that would perform that. If I wanted to have a VBAC, I was going to have to switch my OB and deliver at a hospital an hour and a half from here. I find it incredibly upsetting that those were my only options. Somewhat unhappy about it, I had a repeat c-section. Thankfully, my OB this time was more considerate and talked to me thoughout the procedure. It felt less like “I have other obligations, so can we get this over with” than my first. I hope the medical field can continue to grow and realize that VBACs should be an option. I’m very grateful to have 2 perfect babies, and I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge again if my husband and I decide to go for baby #3… lol

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    Tears came to my eyes as I read your story… just stumbled upon your blog today and I can really identify with this. My son (baby #1) was born four months ago by c-section. I had planned for the (hospital) birth to be as natural as possible with my midwife assisting. Baby turned breech at 34 wks and all our efforts to get him to turn failed. We found a dr 1 1/2 hrs away that delivered breech babies, so we were set to give that a shot… but they only would deliver up to 10 days overdue. Well, my stubborn little guy hung on until 12 days overdue when they did a c-section. The night before the surgery, my contractions started and I was thrilled to be able to experience that just a little bit. The c-section went as best as it could have I think, but I was so disappointed. I definitely want a VBAC with the next and hope and pray that I’ll be able to!

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    Way to go! I totally understand the C-section depression (I had a C-Section in March with my first baby, and cannot stop being sad about it and wondering whether or not it was absolutely necessary. I am determined to have a VBAC next time, and your story has really inspired me to stick to my guns. I’ll be reading it again before that happens for more inspiration!
    Theresa´s last blog post… SleepMy Profile

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    Incredible story. I’m sad for your struggles, but thrilled for your outcome. Both of my children were born at home (and my second was 9lb. 10oz), so I absolutely understand what you meant when you said you felt like Superwoman. Consider me a new fan!

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    I hate those know it all jerk doctors! They sure DON’T want us to be educated. Good for you for sticking to your guns and getting the birth you want.
    The Estrogen Files´s last blog post… GIVEAWAY!My Profile

  92. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    WOW. You’re a tiger woman! I’m gonna carry this story with me when I go into labor.

  93. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Just read this one from the link in your newly posted first birth story – wow again! You absolutely kicked butt, so inspiring the way you stood up for yourself! Others have said it, but I’ll say it again – you are an amazing woman for achieving what you did despite all the fierce opposition and horrible scare mongering. I truly hope that your next birth is the calm, natural, fulfilling homebirth you want.

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    Thank you for your fight and for publishing your VBAC story! I am nearly 32 weeks and am going for a VBA2C. My husband and I have gotten a lot of grief over the VBA2C from family and from doctors in our city. We have to either have a home birth or TOLAC at a University Medical Center an hour away. Your story is empowering! Thank you!

  95. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Just amazing. I am 6 months pregnant with our second. I am hoping so hard to have a VBAC. Your story was an inspiration, I will definitely stand up for myself more this time. You’ve totally reaffirmed all my thoughts about ‘progression timings’ and intervention.

    Thank you so much for sharing this story and I hope everything goes so well with your home birth x

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    I am so glad that I read your story today. This is exactly WHY I MUST stay out of the hospital. I’m going to have DH read your story and watch your hubby’s video. I wish I could say that I can’t believe you had to endure all of that…

    You and your DH and your doula made a fantastic team. Can’t wait to read your next birth story!!!

    ~ Kimberly (planning HBA2C for June/July)
    labortrials´s last blog post… Cesarean Awareness Month 2011My Profile

  97. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    What an amazing story!! so glad u got ur vaginal birth in the end!!
    To read my birthstory (I was all alone!) check out my blog, and go to the category Nicholas Birth Story!
    Things are sooo different here in scandinavia- here they push u to have a vaginal natural birth without epidural <3

  98. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Wow, you really had a lot against you didn’t you? I’m amazed you managed to keep your head in such a situation and so pleased you got your (first!) VBAC.

    You may not be interested but I had a VBAC 4 months ago now. My first birth was a ridiculously unecessary C section in a foreign country. The only reason I had it was meconium in the waters. No foetal distress, no failure to progress. JUST the meconium. Not wanting to go against the doctor (who, ironically, also made noises about “you could be here all night” with the implicit criticism that I was taking up her valuable time) we just agreed. We didn’t want her to be born with all the awful problems we had been told about so just trusted that our doctor knew best.

    When I got back to the UK, every single medical person I met said “you had a section for that?!“. I have suffered 2 years of ‘c section depression’, and all the associated silence that inevitably goes with it. Nobody wants to hear that you’re having a hard time processing your birth if you got a healthy baby out of it.

    Anyway, after doing a helluva lot of research, reading inspiring blogs and stories like yours and just generally letting my stubbornness rule I got my VBAC. In a busy enough hospital that I was left alone to labour (I didn’t have the guts to stay at home. If I was going to have a 3rd it would be at home), born quickly enough that we didn’t have any interventions and, with the exception of stitches, it was just the perfect end to my breeding days.

    If you’re interested, the story is here: http://www.pregnancyforum.org.uk/threads/175591-Amy-Catherine-18th-June-7lb5oz-VBAC%21?

    Be warned, there is a lot of swearing and a few gory photos!
    hcoulson´s last blog post… An easy earringMy Profile

  99. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you for sharing your story! I had such a similar birth- prepared myself for a natural birth and ended up with pitocin-epidural-csection as a result of ” failure to progress”. Next time I’m going to really grow a pair and fight for my VBAC! Also, my husband is hispanic- we know who in his family WILL pierce her ears if unattended and who’s allowed to babysit :)

  100. JanneBrorupWeston | Profile
    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thanks for the great story- I love how candid you are.
    It brings back memories of my cesareans (1978 and 1979), my hospital VBAC (1981) and my home birth (1984). I was very fortunate to have the most amazing Ob/Gyn for my hospital VBAC. The downer was having to travel 1400 miles to Vancouver and wait for 3 weeks for the baby to come. I had no interventions at all, not even a fetal monitor strip. I had a 9 hour labour and a 40 minute 2nd stage after having been ‘diagnosed’ with severe CPD. and yes Benjamin was bigger than his older sisters.
    But even I surprised when my homebirth produced a 9 pound 6 oz boy, Simon! Today I am blessed to have been present at all 5 of my vaginally delivered grand babies (with 2 more due this summer).
    And it’s true – giving birth the way nature intended made me feel whole. It made me understand I could do anything I put my mind to. It made me believe in my body, and in my baby’s ability to dance the dance of birth with me.
    Keep up the good work!

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