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1 C/section and a VBAC

My Wife Debbie and I thought we were ready for labor and birth. The fact is if we knew then what we know now…. Sound familiar. One never knows what the next minute of life brings. We hope and pray that tomorrow arrives and brings sunshine. Debbie and I look at our first birthing experience as a saving experience. It saved us in more ways that one. Yes, we experienced much pain and sorrow for a LONG time, but we are better from it today.

Six years ago my wife and I prepared for our first child. We had all the plans set. Her pregnancy went very smooth, we took childbirth classes offered through the local hospital and all the needed supplies were at home ready to go. We went to an OBGYN office that was made up of five Doctors. We saw each one briefly in the 9 months of pregnancy. All but one we felt good with after our brief meetings.

Our due date came and went, our little angel was not ready to be delivered. On an office visit, seven days after our due date something caused Megan's (our unborn child) heart rate to drop for a second. We were sent to the hospital to have some sort of stress test done and everything was confirmed to be fine. Debbie was not experiencing any contractions, had not lost her mucous plug and no dilation had taken place at this point. The OBGYN suggested that labor be induced. Later that Monday we went to the hospital to get "checked in". The plan was to induce Debbie in the morning and if we spent the night we could get started first. What a prize, so we thought. After we got settled into our labor room the OBGYN checked Debbie. Her mucous plug had started to loosen and she was dilated to 1. We were given the opportunity to go home and return in the morning or stay since we already registered. Debbie and I talked it over and stayed. This is where we made one of the biggest mistakes in our life. And we paid for it. That evening Debbie was given prostaglandin gel to help soften the cervix.

Very early on Tuesday, around 5 Am the nurse started the induction with pitocin. Four hours later we finally saw an OBGYN. OH NO, is it the one we cared little about, YES it is! His bedside manor was crap at best. A few minutes later he was gone. The morning went fast. Debbie and I were excited and very naive to what was about to happen. You know how it goes? You get pregnant, nine months later go to the hospital, have a baby, go home. SURE. Around 10am Debbie told me she didn't like what was going on, she got real scared. Labor was thrown at her. A short time later the Doctor broke her water; again he was in and out of the room. At some point Debbie was given stadol to help with the contractions. Debbie doesn't remember a lot of the events that morning, or the next few mornings. Megan's heart rate went from 120 to 50. In a flash, I had nurses around me calling for help. They were yelling at each other to get that Doctor in here ASAP. They put Debbie's bed in a position almost standing her on her head. They started saying Emergency C-section, Stat this and Stat that. They even had me sign some paper work as they took her into the operating room. I could barely hold the pen let alone sign my name. As they prepped Debbie I was put into a gown, mask and booties. Just then a neonatal Dr. started to scrub up next to me. Thinking I was another Dr. he asked me what the situation was and I responded telling him, "I'm the husband not the Dr.!" We both laughed a brief second and the nurse squared him away.

As I waited to enter the room they removed Megan from her mommy. Once they let me in the operating room I found my wife unconscious on the operating table. Her tongue was taped to her cheek to keep her from choking. Her insides, stomach, intestines, laid on her chest. I watched her blood pool on the floor; the Doctor even made an attempt to corral it with the sheet he threw down to help soak it up. I called out, "Is she going to be OK Doc?". I was assured "fine". As I stood over my daughter I was mesmerized by the beauty in front of me. I counted her toes and fingers, just right. However, I noticed Megan was breathing hard. The neonatal Dr. confirmed she needed some special attention and said they were taking her to the neonatal unit. Debbie and I had a plan and the plan called for me to stay with the baby. So I went off with Megan. Soon later Megan was doing fine. They had to give her some oxygen and planned to keep her for seven days for observations and antibiotics. Meanwhile, I felt Megan was safe and I went to see Debbie.

Debbie was in the recovery room. Her catheter came out and I heard them call the Doctors name over the load speaker. At this point I was worn out. I made my way to our room and had a snack. The Doctor found me and assured me all was well. I thanked him. He said in those situations I have to save Mom first then the baby. WOW! If you ask me you shouldn't have to save anyone. Remember, get pregnant, go to hospital have baby, go home. What had just happened to us?

As the morning turned into afternoon the "experience of birth" turned from bad to worse. It almost seemed impossible to hear the Dr. paged so many times knowing it was to handle problems my wife was experiencing. My wife had lost more blood than originally thought. Her body was shutting down, her heart rate was off the charts, kidneys failing, lungs filling with fluids and by 8pm the Doctors felt the best place for her would be SICU.

It has been six years and I just cried typing the words SICU.

On day two, Wednesday, Debbie had to go under for a second surgery. Her blood supply was not recovering; they thought maybe she was bleeding internally. The second surgery was very scary, her body was not stable and her blood count was already very low. If it wasn't for her young age and healthy body they may not have been able to go forward. She made it through ok.

Thursday, day three Debbie seemed to be doing better. I went home that night feeling optimistic she was on the road to recovery. The true sign would be when her blood test came back around 4 am on Friday. I left Debbie that night with a plan to return in the AM. I woke up at 5 AM. The first thing I did was call to get the results. Bad news, her blood count went down again and she had some trouble breathing during the night, which was helped with breathing treatments. I rushed to the hospital, speeding and running to Debbie's hospital room. I knew I had to compose myself not to worry Debbie. When I arrived I found her alert showing concerned and scared signs for the first time. I demanded action. I made threats; I was less than calm. By lunchtime every specialist for every major organ came to see Debbie. The problem was her white blood cells were eating the red and not allowing them to reproduce. The Blood specialist made his calls to what he said the best Dr's in the world and came up with a suggestion. After what would be Debbie's final blood transfusion totaling 10, she had made the turn and was rebounding. By Sunday night she was released from SICU and back to the maternity floor.

Megan had made great progress also, so after 8 days in the hospital (5 of them my wife spent in SICU) we all went home as a family. Great it is over. Or so I thought.

My wife and I were happy to be alive together with our new baby girl, we planned to forgive the butcher (oops, Dr., after all he is only human). The events needed answers. We wanted to know more, what our birthing options would be in the future, should we even have more children, the list was endless.

What I didn't know was my wife was feeling very depressed, she felt failure, she felt robbed, cheated out of the birth experience. Funny I felt this way also. After some time we started talking about what happened. I even listened to her and followed her as she burned up the Internet seeking answers. The International Cesearean Awareness Network (ICAN) was a major help for us. Not a day passed I didn't find myself crying over what happened. Debbie and I felt it was time to turn it over to a higher power.

Debbie was on a mission and I guess I was to. As she found answers I found answers. We started to heal. Debbie looked for possible alternatives in and out of our state. We interviewed and toured two Birth centers and three hospitals in Florida where we live. I had asked my wife what happens if we have another c-section? Her response was that she would need to be at peace that it would not be an "unnecessary cesarean" and that any type of interventions would only be used very wisely.

Five years past, it was time to expand our family. We settled on a birth center 75 miles or 1 hour and 15 minutes away from our house. Most of our family was very supportive the others were full of fear and we steered clear of FEAR.

This birth experience was unbelievable; I felt WE were in the driver's seat not an OBGYN. Debbie's first sign of labor began on our son's due date when she began losing her mucous plug and later contractions began off and on. Our plan was to stay home and labor as long as we felt possible. On Friday morning we drove to the birth center along with our labor assistant, Jill. After being checked for progress we were told that we were dilated to 4 and that we would be having our baby later that day! It was also discovered that our baby was in a posterior position which explained all the back labor my wife was experiencing! We were encouraged that the baby would hopefully turn as labor continued. We were given the opportunity to leave and go to the mall or the park to do some walking. Eating light and drinking were also encouraged throughout her labor. This was a huge difference from being confined to a hospital bed and tied to a machine. We went out and by noon Debbie was in intense labor, by 3pm active labor. What an experience we had. The midwife wanted to break Debbie's water, she felt labor might have been slowing down. Being very cautious of intervention we were very apprehensive and bought as much extra time as we could. Debbie and I walked around the Birth center, we stopped at one point and prayed for God to lead and guide us. As Debbie went to lye on the bed so the midwife could break her water, it broke all on it's own! Later that night I witnessed my wife go from being in very active labor to becoming exhausted from it all but hanging in there! When the midwife suggested transferring to the hospital for pitocin my wife perk right up and looked like a woman full of laboring energy! WHAT A WOMAN! The midwife even got a kick out of it and allowed us to "buy" more time of laboring at the center.

Unfortunately, Debbie could not get past 8 centimeters. Our baby was still in a posterior position and Debbie was having a hard time relaxing due to the hard back labor. Finally, some time around midnight we had to transfer to the hospital for interventions. Oh no, here we go again. Armed with the Holy Spirit, a lot more knowledge, labor assistant and midwife what could go wrong? Debbie has some medical interventions. This time we knew what was taking place and why. The interventions were used moderately and to give relief to a very tired mother so she could sleep. An epidural and some pitocin were administered. At one point about 3 am, Debbie heard me weeping at her bedside, all I could think about was this could not be happening again. She assured me that she and the baby were going to be fine and that she was at peace about everything. All would continue to go the way we had hoped. We felt assured that our baby boy would be born by morning. As the morning sun rose, Debbie began to push. One hour later our beautiful son, Christian was born. We had our VBAC!

There was a time I would over analyze life and ask the question what if this, what if that. I have been able to get past that. I have been blessed with a loving wife who searched for answers the same time I did and eventually found peace by giving our burdens to a higher power. Sure we get excited at the crap people are fed in regards to c-sections, VBAC's, home births etc. We focus on learning and understanding and taking responsibility for our actions. We (Debbie more than I) also like to share our experience with others, encouraging them to seek answers and alternatives to choose from.

I hope our first experience at birth does NOT sound familiar to anyone reading this, but I am sure to be wrong. Our VBAC was a much needed healing experience for both of us. I now feel more able to "move on". It was not easy for me to write this, as I am sure it is not easy for others to express their feelings and experiences with birth at times. I pray it helps someone.

Scott A.
C-section survivor

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