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Our VBAC with Erika

I was so determined to birth my baby naturally so I knew I had to do my research and get outside support that wasn't affiliated with the hospital. I had heard of doulas but didn't know much about them. It soon became very clear that....

natural births after a c-section

Reflecting on our VBAC journey with Erika

Sandy and Matt share their experience in preparing for and having a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) - Thank you for offering your thoughts and feelings for others to reflect on.  

Sandy:
  1. What do I want to acknowledge myself for about my VBAC birth preparation and experience?

I was so determined to birth my baby naturally so I knew I had to do my research and get outside support that wasn't affiliated with the hospital. I had heard of doulas but didn't know much about them. It soon became very clear that I made the right choice in hiring a doula (Erika :-) ) as she was there for Matt and I and supported our wishes. My determination to succeed only grew stronger as my pregnancy progressed and I never lost the mental strength to believe in my own body's capabilities, despite hospital scare tactics being thrown at me as my due date was getting closer. I surprised myself and managed to stay relatively calm throughout the end of my pregnancy and beginning of labour. I knew I had a good support system and all of my wishes were written down so this enabled me to focus purely on the most important job of all - bringing my baby into this world in a natural and joyful way, a way that all women deserve the right to experience, regardless of how their previous birth went.

I'm proud to have not needed any pain relief post birth either. All the nurses kept asking me how my pain was and I kept saying, "I don't have any. I feel great thanks!"

And you know what? I did it!!! Every now and then I think back in amazement and I feel quietly proud of my achievement. I want to do it again!!! That's nature's way I know, but wow, I can birth my own baby and it was so incredibly beautiful. She's my perfect little angel!

  1. With Erika, what important parts of myself and birth did I learn about? 

That in order to focus and get through some tough times emotionally, I had to start learning not to care what other people think. I gradually managed to do this as far as not caring what hospital staff thought of my decisions. Erika said once that babies will come when they're ready - I kept repeating that in my mind, even more so as my due date came and went and I was getting pressured into having another caesarean. I definitely learned to trust my own instincts. I knew my baby would come when the time was right, and she did and she's perfect!

  1. Is there anything I would like to do differently next time I am pregnant / give birth / parent?  

I've been blessed with two amazing, happy and healthy babies and I have no wishes for another but if I did, I would definitely research more into a possible home birth, early on in pregnancy. If I went through the hospital again, I'd make certain of having the same midwife all the way through (even in cosmos), with no-one leaving my care midway. I'd also have a birth plan written up much earlier to avoid my wishes being talked down and ignored.

Now that I know I can birth my own baby, I believe I could get through the last couple of hours without the use of the gas that I thought I needed at the time.

But a couple of hours of the actual physicality of holding and breathing through the gas mechanism at the end helped me focus on each breath.

  1. What were the benefits in having doula support for your VBAC?

* In preparing for birth

Knowing that Erika would be there to support my decisions when others did not took a lot of the stress away.

* At the birth

Meeting us at home during labour then driving us to the hospital relieved a lot of stress, not having to worry about how to get there as we don't drive.

Everything - from voicing my wishes to hospital staff when I was clearly preoccupied with intense contractions, to wiping vomit off my face!

Funny how hospital staff expect quick coherent answers to their questions when a woman is in active labour. Thank you for making sure they read my birth plan before proceeding to do anything and telling me what was happening.

Suggesting the shower which I stayed in until my baby was born.

Offering me apple juice and snake lollies to keep my energy up.

Everything!  

* In knowing my options and making informed choices 

Erika knew my wishes and made sure hospital staff read my birth plan before proceeding to do anything.

* For my partner

Erika could reassure him that things were ok and what was happening. He acts like he's tough but tends to freak out and not know what to do sometimes, especially when he sees me in great distress. I think he felt relieved that he wasn't alone in being there for me as he was last time. Pretty emotionally draining for him too and I felt I didn't have to worry about him at all like I did the first time.

    * Regarding preparation for life with my baby

I already have an amazing little boy at home. Adjusting to two babies is a challenge. I remember Erika telling me that Greg would learn to be patient when I'm attending to a new baby and vice versa. So far so good…

Matt:
  1. What do I want to acknowledge myself for about my birth preparation and experience? 

I think the strength of Sandy and our relationship was tested even more the second time around. I wish to acknowledge the positivity & strength that was shown by Sandy and recognize the benefits to our relationship.

  1. With Erika, what important parts of myself and birth did I learn about?

That I don't need to be in control of every aspect of my partners life to be supportive. Sometimes your partner needs to do things on their own but understand you are there to help and listen when required. I will apply this type of support to my parenting In the future.

  1. Is there anything I would like to do differently next time I am pregnant / give birth / parent? 

Not a thing, this time around was totally different. It was great. Erika gave me a balance between home birthing and modern medicine that I was comfortable with.

  1. What were the benefits in having doula support?

 * In preparing for birth

*  At the birth

*  In knowing my options and making informed choices

*  For my partner

Someone we could turn to with the sole agenda of supporting the needs of the mother and parents. This gave as a trust that was never there with hospital staff or our family.

* Regarding preparation for life with my baby

The open discussions we had regarding alternative ways of living, birthing & parenting was a breath of fresh air. So many people and professionals listen to you, only to tell you that you are sort of on the right track. I found our open conversation with Erika to be accepting of alternative lifestyles and mature open discussions.   

Matt's Birth Story 

I grew up hearing stories about men not caring or wanting to be involved in pregnancy or child birth, my father & my father's father. These stories seemed so clean cut. Black and white.

The truth is, pregnancy is first and foremost a woman's 'journey' and the pragmatic, clinical nature of man's logic has no place in maternity. Our 'outcomes' definition of 'success' seems to neglect one essential part of pregnancy and often many parts of life. The 'journey'.

A woman's pregnancy takes 40 weeks, birth can take 1,2,3 days and newborn childcare is at least a 12 month process, yet the men in charge of modern pediatrics speak In minutes and the one percentile.

During my experience of child birth I found myself thinking in minutes, outcomes, cm and %. Why, well because I am a man.

I believe it is the responsibility of the mother and father to recognize and accept our primal instincts and work towards a balance during this period and hopefully during parenting.

I failed Sandy during the first birth because I gave into this 'outcomes' approach to life and allowed people with no care for Sandy's soul to make clinical decisions that totally sacrificed her mind in preference for her body and their own agendas.

I spent most part of the second pregnancy trying to think with my heart, listening patiently regardless of outcome & spent more time holding without the intention of sex.

I believe it was difficult for me and is for other men because it involves us being totally selfless and ignoring our basic primal instincts.

My son already comes to me for more masculine tasks, even though he was not taught to and my daughter will probably seek Sandy when it comes to feminine tasks. This is something set by nature from day one and It Is very hard to find a balance as a child grows into an adult and more often than not we just give in and accept the gender roles given to us. 

I guess my gender roles based view of life and maternity might seem misogynist and simplistic, but I simply cannot ignore the way I feel. However, I can learn to transcend my selfish primal urges for periods of time when it is required that I be there for people other than myself.

Sandy's pregnancies have shown me that I can become a multi dimensional citizen, father, lover & partner that has evolved past primal needs and is capable of greater human sacrifice.      

Matt

 

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