My Journey to VBA2C
Donna’s story can also be enjoyed as an inspiring YouTube clip.
In 2002, I was pregnant with my first baby. My labour was long, I was pushed into pain relief, I had gas, pethidine and then finally an epidural. Bubs was in posterior position; I was 7cm dilated and Bubs started to stress — 24 hours of labour ended in C-section. I was told I ‘failed to progress’. My baby was born — “It’s a girl! 8 pounds, 4ounces.” Whitney was beautiful. I only saw and held her briefly. I didn’t see her again till twelve hours later. She did not breastfeed very well as she was already being bottle fed.
In 2008, I was pregnant with my second baby. I wanted to try for a VBAC. My labour was 14 hours long, and I arrived at hospital in active labour. I never knew how difficult it was going to be — not being able to move around freely, being hooked up to an IV, not being able to bath, and all because I was labelled ‘Prev C-section’. I was told I needed to be constantly monitored, that I had a time frame I had to labour in and I was pushed into pain relief. In the end I gave in and tried gas, pethidine and then an epidural. I stalled at 6cm and was classed as a ‘failure to progress’. It ended in a C-section.
I cried all the way up to surgery feeling like I failed, thinking, ‘Why is my body faulty!’ I didn’t know I could say ‘NO’ to having the C-section. I was fine, my baby was fine — I just reached the 9 hour mark in hospital and did not dilate quick enough for them: 1cm an hour. I never dreamed it would end in another C-section. I felt broken.
My baby was born — “It’s a boy! 8 pounds, 1o ounces.” Lachlan was perfect. I only saw him and held him briefly. This time I demanded to breastfeed. He was brought to me three hours after delivery, he was not bottle fed and he took straight to the breast.
In 2011, I fell pregnant with my third baby. I never knew it would be such a long, hard road to get the chance to birth vaginally. I was told right from the start my 12 week antenatal appointment I would have an elective C-section. I said, ‘No, I’m vaginally birthing this baby.’ We also found out we were having a girl.
I phoned a lot of hospitals and they all said they would not support my attempt to VBA2C. I had heard of a few women having successful VBA2C and couldn’t understand why I was being denied the chance! I felt beaten down like I was fighting an uphill battle. This was my experience and I felt it was being taken away.
In my search to VBA2C, I did a lot of research, knew my rights and researched more. Then I came across CARES and emailed a lovely lady named Tessa. By then I was in my third trimester. I explained my situation; she gave me wonderful advice and support and let me vent all my frustrations. The CARES facebook page was wonderful as there are so many supportive fans. I met wonderful women and made some friends. I loved the page as reading other women’s stories and experiences gave me the strength to stay true to myself, listen to my heart and keeping pushing to VBA2C.
I also read a book called A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural Empowering Birth by Katrina Zaslavsky and loved reading the accompanying birth goddess cards with affirmations.
My husband and I also did the ‘Birthing From Within’ class with Diana Kirke at The Birth Place. It was a wonderful class that brought my husband and me closer; he learnt to just ‘be there’. The breathing and visualisations we practised together. Also, I thank the Beautiful Birth facebook page for their support and advice. My family and friends were amazing, too — so supportive.
I changed care providers at 30 weeks and found a wonderful doctor and did shared care as I was not happy with hospital OBs. I went back to hospital at 36 weeks for an antenatal appointment; I didn’t want to, but my doctor advised me to as Bubs was measuring a couple of weeks behind through my pregnancy.
I then only went back to hospital when I was in labour! I was 40 weeks. I was having little contractions all day — they were all over the place and not really painful. I thought I could be like this for days. My husband, kids and I went and visited the mothers for Mother’s Day.
By 6pm my contractions were stronger — five to ten minutes apart. I would squat deep with each contraction and felt in control. At 7pm I had a gush of blood. I didn’t want to go to hospital knowing I was only in early labour, but was advised by hospital to get checked out. I felt my dream to VBA2C was slipping away.
I arrived at Women’s Assessment and said, ‘I do not want a C-section — if Bubs is okay, just leave me to continue to labour.’ The midwives were really great towards me and didn’t push a C-section.
I was checked at about 8pm and was told I had partially broken my waters. They said it is called a ‘bloody show’ as I had the gush of blood earlier and I was 1cm. I was getting strong contractions every five minutes. I was sent to labour and delivery. I told them I did not want to be laying in the bed, but they wanted to have me monitored so I met them halfway and was given a wireless monitor so I could move about and squat when my body told me to. They met me halfway and left me to labour how I wanted. Having the monitoring on I didn’t mind as I had had the bleeding earlier.
The night staff came on and this wonderful midwife, Megan, looked after me. She was amazing; she believed in me and that I could have a vaginal birth — I felt so lucky to have her. I met the obstetrician and he checked me at around 9.30pm and I was 3cm. I was getting a contraction every one to two minutes, and they were lasting for over a minute. Around 11ish I was getting contractions so strong and fast — every thirty seconds and lasting for one and a half minutes. I felt the strong urge to push and could not stop the sensation. I asked myself in labour, wouldn’t a woman who is 10cm and having these sorts of contractions be ready to push? Why am I getting them so fast? I had been 3cm only one and a half hours earlier — they didn’t think I would be ready to push! I started to bleed and Bubs’ heart rate was dropping because I was pushing — I could not stop the urge.
At 11.30pm I managed to get to the bed so they could see what was going on and — to everyone’s surprise — I was 10cm and she was coming. I didn’t have time to get off the bed — in eighteen minutes of pushing, she was born. She came so fast.
I did it. I can’t believe I did it. I pushed her into the world! Drug-free. Natural. My baby and I did it.
My active labour was two hours. From the very first regular contraction to my baby being born, it was six hours all up.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who is in my life and who came into my life and whose paths crossed with mine. You all helped me. I took a piece from all of you. I used all your support, advice, love to give me the strength to stand up for myself and to believe in myself.
Thank you to my six birth support partners: my wonderful husband, Paul, my mum, Margy, and four cousins — who are like sisters to me — Megan, Carrie, Kylie and Mel. They were my strength, my rock, during my labour when it was so fast and when I was getting slammed with contractions. You kept me focused with positive affirmations. Thank you lastly to my twin brother, Andrew, and sister-in-law, Emily, for helping me get settled in the maternity ward.
It was so amazing pushing my baby girl into the world and having her put on my chest. To see her take her first breath to hear her first cry and to breastfeed her straightaway — no words can explain how empowered I feel.