Can crying really help solve prodromal labor? Is it possible that an emotional release can suddenly turn manageable contractions into full-blown pushing? YES!
Listen to our friend, Liz, share her incredible surprise HBAC story that will reinforce your confidence in the power of a woman’s ability to birth. Liz was prepared to birth at the hospital without her husband due to COVID restrictions, but her baby had other plans.
She says, “I got to have my baby in this completely natural way that I didn’t even realize how much I needed. I went from having a birth where I had literally zero control, zero-knowledge, and everyone else telling me what to do, and then a birth where I caught my own baby, suction bulbed him, and walked out carrying him while he was still attached to me. It’s so incredibly empowering.”
We also discuss specific ways to find fears within yourself and how to release them.
There truly is physical power in just letting go.
This episode is sponsored by our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents, that you can find at thevbaclink.com. It is the most comprehensive VBAC preparation course in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced, video course.
Together, Meagan and Julie have helped over 800 parents get the birth that they wanted and they are ready to help you too. Head on over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today.
Note: All transcripts are edited to eliminate false starts and filler words.
Julie: Happy Wednesday, women of strength. We are really excited for our story today, as usual. I don’t think we’re ever not excited about anything, really. But today we have a really cool story. We just love our friend, Liz. Her story is really, really exciting because it was an unplanned, unassisted home birth after Cesarean and I’m dying to hear all of the details of this story.
Liz is from Houston, Texas and she is the mother of two boys. Her youngest boy’s name is the same as my oldest boy’s name. I thought that was really, really cool. They have a dog and she’s a Montessori teacher. What is that like right now?
Liz: Oh my god, to add more stress to the situation, right? We are still doing it virtually right now and it’s pretty wild because, in Montessori, you’re teaching three different levels. Not only are you teaching three different levels, but then every individual child has their own path that they’re on. And trying to do that via Zoom-- it keeps you on your toes. But thank God I’ve been doing it for a while. It’s a good challenge. It’s keeping me busy.
Review of the week
Julie: Oh my goodness. Well, we can’t wait to hear your story, but before we get into it, I am going to read the review of the week. The review of the week this time is from Jill Dash. It’s actually a Google review. If you didn’t know, you can find us on Google. Just search for The VBAC Link and our business will pop up on the right side. You can click there and leave a review for us if you do not have Apple Podcasts. Or if you do, that would be awesome too.
Jill Dash on Google says, “I started listening to the VBAC Link about four weeks before my due date, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing I couldn't have a doula at my birth or attend in-person birth classes, I was desperate for as much knowledge as I could gain from the internet. I listened to The VBAC Link on my nightly walks as I prepared for my own birth and was so inspired, encouraged, and comforted by hearing everyone's stories. I love how supportive Julie and Meagan are of their guests and of everyone's stories. There is so much to learn from this podcast! Thank you for existing.”
Oh, my gosh. Jill Dash, thank YOU for existing. Thank you so much for writing this Google review. I know we probably say it all the time, but when we get reviews— Monday, we get our podcast reviews, all of them in our inbox. Whenever you leave a review on Google, it pops up at that time you leave it in our notifications. It really does bring a smile to our faces. I know it has turned my day around more than once for sure. It makes the harder things about running a business like this a little bit more bearable when we get those really awesome reviews.
So thanks again Jill Dash and everyone else who has left a review. If you haven’t already, go ahead to Apple Podcasts, Google or even head over on Facebook and leave us a rating. Let us know how The VBAC Link is helping you on your birth journey or as a birth worker.
Julie: Do you want a VBAC but don’t know where to start? It’s easy to feel like we need to figure it all out on our own. That’s what we used to do and it was the loneliest and most ineffective thing we have ever done. That’s why Meagan and I created our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents, that you can find at thevbaclink.com. It is the most comprehensive VBAC preparation course in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced, video course.
Together, Meagan and I have helped over 800 parents get the birth that they wanted and we are ready to help you too. Head on over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today. That’s thevbaclink.com. See you there.
Julie: Alright. Well, you guys. I don’t even know enough details about this story to even start telling the story for her. I guess that’s a good thing, but I’m going to turn it over to Liz to start sharing her story with us. I am going to be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to hear the details of this really exciting story. So go ahead and take it away.
Liz: Cool. I think it’s important to tell the highlights of the birth of my first son first. My older son is almost exactly two years older than my son who was just born. They’re two years and six days apart.
With my older son, first, off he was “late”, which, as someone who’s been through pregnancy and birth twice now understanding that that’s no big deal, but when you’re in your first pregnancy, it can seem like the longest amount of time ever. I had an OB who seemed to be pretty pro-natural birth and then throughout the time of my pregnancy, it became more clear that she was not as supportive of that and letting things run its natural course as I was hoping.
I had found a doula who I think was really not much of a doula. She was a wonderful massage therapist but when it came to knowing me, having a relationship with me, giving me advice on anything, I didn’t really have that.
Meagan: This sounds like Julie‘s first doula.
Julie: My husband calls her the most expensive foot rub I’ve ever had because she rubbed my feet for an hour in labor. I mean, she was great. She’s a nice person. She’s not a doula anymore. I think I was her last birth so she might have been like, “I’m out of here,” after that.
Liz: It’s funny that you say that. I feel like this was kind of the end of the run as well. I’ll get more into it as I talk about my experience with my second son, but it’s one of those things that if you don’t have frame of reference, you’re like, “Well, I guess this is how it works,” if you don’t have a lot of other people that you can go and talk to.
She had a lot of boundaries around being a doula in that I was only to see her one time and if my labor went over a certain amount of time then that would cost exponentially more. There was a lot of stress going on.
Oh gosh, this was the other thing. It would cost more for her to come to my house first and labor with me at home and then go to the hospital with me as well, which was a pretty weird thing considering the fact that we lived down the street from each other.
Meagan: I was going to say, was she in another super far away city? What?
Liz: No. We’re literally in the same neighborhood and we live in the medical district.
With that all being said, I didn’t have a lot of guidance. With my first son, I experienced a lot of— what I came to have found out as prodromal labor. Laboring at night, going through the whole process of contractions that feel very legitimate and have patterns, but then waking up in the morning and your body just going, “Well, it’s time to go back to work, right?” and slowing down again.
That went on for a while until I went into what seemed like full-on labor. I’m texting my doula. She texted me back. We are talking about it and then get to the “five minutes for an hour” situation.
I go to the hospital and I am not even near ready to be even admitted. I don’t even think I was 2 centimeters. They sent me back home and they said, “Don’t even come until you are two minutes apart because you’re so close. You’re going to have lots of time.”
That was really good advice. Hours went by. They got closer. I’ll get into it more when I’m talking about my second birth, but these were totally manageable contractions. Were they contractions? Sure. Was I needing to moan through them or bend over? Not even close. I think that that’s notable.
Meagan: Did your doula give you any advice? Like, “Yeah, I think it’s time to go,” or “Actually, I think it would be beneficial to do this, this, and this and then reassess,” or anything like that?
Liz: No. She was very hard to get a hold of and you’ll understand why in a minute. It was just like, “Okay, we’ll go if you want to.”
I go back and I am barely a 3 when they admit me. Once I get admitted, I text her and I’m like, “Hey I’m here. Ready for you when you’re ready to come.” And then she decides that now is the time to tell me that she’s in another birth.
Meagan: Okay, so not being totally honest along the way.
Liz: Right. With anyone, I try to consider that they’re coming from a good place, so she was probably trying to not upset me.
Meagan: Yeah, I could see that. But at the same time, being honest is good.
Liz: 100%. So the deal was, if this were to happen because this happens all the time as y’all know as people who work in the birth industry, you’d have backups, right? But instead of a backup doula, she sent one of her massage therapists which was awesome and felt nice, but this person didn’t have a lot of experience when it came to birth stuff.
I am actually backing up and remembering that I went into labor the day that they were going to induce me because I was “late”. We get to the hospital. Of course, all the checking in, everything, labor stalls like it totally does all the time. This is when I found out that my OB was really not on board because she goes, “We were already going to induce you today, so we might as well just start some Pitocin.”
Liz: “We might as well start some Pitocin because you’re not in full labor.” She then decides to tell me that she has to leave soon-- you guys are going to love this-- because she had to get her windshield of her car repaired.
Julie: Okay. Do you know what? I guess nothing because I am at a loss for words. I thought I had words, but I just don’t have words. That makes my skin crawl. It just makes all doulas look bad.
Liz: No, this is the OB, not the doula.
Julie: Oh shoot, okay.
Meagan: It’s just unique. This is the frustrating thing. Obviously, doulas and providers are all different, but this just happened the other day with a client of mine. I was going to her birth. She called her provider. Her provider’s phone went right to voicemail and was like, “Here, call this person. I am out of town.”
She was like, “I literally saw this person yesterday and she said nothing about this.” I don’t know why, but that frustrated me so much because as a doula, a provider, and a person on call-- I’ll just say, it’s hard to be on call, but at the same time it’s really important if you’re going to have that profession. It’s important to take it seriously. Be honest and open, not just not show up. Do you know what I mean? It’s just frustrating.
Liz: I think their thing is that when you’ve worked in a profession especially like healthcare for so long, you don’t even realize that it’s the other person‘s first experience with it. So you’re like, “Yeah well, I’m going on vacation because whatever”. Not excusing this, but more just understanding that this happened a lot to me. With nurses, even just the way people would talk about your birth and your experiences. It’s so new, fresh, and terrifying to you in so many ways and you’re not even on their radar.
Meagan: You’re like, “Listen this is my first time. These things are scary. I’ve never done this. It’s all new. Please talk in a gentle way.”
Liz: Right, totally. I did not know and this is not my bad, but just a new experience. I didn’t do all this research on all of these other things because it never occurred to me that they would happen. I never researched Pitocin and what that would do because I was like, “Oh, well I’m just going to have a natural birth with this doula and everything‘s going to be fine.” Which, yeah.
Pitocin kicks in and it’s terrible. The IV popped out of my vein and infiltrated my arm. I had all of the liquid going through my arm instead of into my vein.
Meagan: Were you just puffing up?
Liz: It was terribly painful. It made the contractions look like nothing. Everything goes terribly. I’m done. I’ve been in labor for a good amount of time now, probably 12 to 15 hours or something. Doula finally shows up and I’m at my peak. I’m already on Pitocin. I’ve already had this infiltration.
Oh, and my OB told me that I only had a 40% chance of giving birth naturally because my son hadn’t dropped yet. There was so much stuff thrown at me.
Meagan: What?! Because he hadn’t dropped yet? You weren’t even…
Liz: Yeah, it was bad. She got there and I was like, “I’m done. I’m done. I want an epidural. I’ve hit my peak.”
Anyhow, long story short, I had my son in the most common, over-told story like, “Goes into distress because that’s what happens all the time when this set of interventions gets thrown into play” and ended up with an emergency C-section which I never prepared for. I don’t think I was too emotionally broken by it because, at the end of the day, I just wanted everyone to be safe. He was there and it was wonderful, but I didn’t realize how painful a C-section is and I didn’t realize how completely unable I would be to walk and do things.
Notably, my husband was in a cast in his right arm at the time. I just did not have the support that I needed. So that’s that story. Kid was fine. Everything was fine, but it was very “meh” at the end of the day.
Meagan: Man, I am sorry that you had frustrating things like that. That’s just so hard.
Liz: I am grateful that everyone was okay. I’m grateful that— I don’t know. I mean, I could sit here forever and talk about how terrible and horrible it was. And it was. There were traumatic moments of it. And those-- I didn’t even realize I was so upset by it until I got very close to having the birth of my second son.
But what I can say, is that what was more important, is you should research every kind of possible situation that could happen to you and birth because so often, things could go in all of these different ways. I just wasn’t prepared and I didn’t have the support. I didn’t have anyone on my side. My dear husband just wants me to not be in pain, right? So he’s going to do anything I say.
Meagan: Right, yeah. This is something that we talk about on the podcast all the time because we share stories of all types. We share VBAC, CBAC, we share uterine rupture. We really share all types of stories. We have had people write to us and say that it actually upsets them that we share these stories. We talk about it and say that the reason we share these stories is because we want to prepare you in all the ways. So no, you don’t have to listen to this story at all, but it’s important because we also felt like we were there too. We didn’t plan on having a C-section. C-section wasn’t even in the midst of what we were imagining. I’m sure Julie didn’t plan on getting preeclampsia. That wasn’t her plan.
Julie: I was superwoman when I was pregnant until I wasn’t.
Meagan: Right. I also didn’t know the difference between a VBAC supportive versus a VBAC tolerant provider. There are so many things along the way that I think it’s so important that we research because we don’t expect them to happen to us. We hope that these things don’t happen to us, but they can. If we are prepared a little bit mentally-- not like we’re planning on that happening-- but if we’re prepared that it’s a possibility, then it doesn’t hit us like a freight train when it happens if it happens.
Liz: Right. It’s all about informed decision making too. You can 100% end up, not even attempting a VBAC, you can just decide, “Oh I want to have another C-section.” But to be able to go through the process of understanding what that means and what consequences, either negative or positive, come from that, it’s a peaceful way of understanding. I think that I was just like, “Oh, well I am young, I am hip. I am just going to have this baby.”
There’s so much of motherhood from breastfeeding to discipline to everything. It doesn’t come naturally. You do need to reach out and talk to people and ask for support and learn all of these different ways because that’s how you can make the decision that you can feel okay with and feel at peace with.
Meagan: Exactly. I couldn’t agree with that better.
Liz: Oh, and the baby came. The end. Y’all want to dive into this crazy story?
Meagan: Let’s hear it.
Liz: Cool. I think everything about my second kid has been this exciting surprise. The irony being that probably a week before we got pregnant with him, we had just sat down and had this conversation about how we were going to wait another year and it wasn’t the right time right now. Then surprise! There he is.
So, a surprise pregnancy. I just kind of assumed, “Well, I had a C-section with the first one so I guess this one will be a C-section too. That’s nice because I can schedule it and I know when he’s coming. It’ll make teaching easier because I can say, ‘Oh this is when I’m going to take off and blah blah blah.’”
It never even occurred to me. A few people had mentioned VBAC to me and I was like, “I don’t know.” I feel like I had kind of just given up on that whole idea of having that type of birth because everything just went so wonky with my first kid that it was like, “Well I guess that’s just not in the cards for me.”
But I did switch OB’s. The OB that I switched to was actually the woman who ended up doing my C-section for my other child because, as I mentioned earlier, my OB had to leave. So this other doctor swooped in at the last minute when things were actually going awry. My kid was not doing well and she saved his life. In the hour that I spent with her, I felt more connected to this woman than I had in the nine months that I had with my other OB.
Julie: That’s when you know you’ve met the right one.
Liz: Yeah. She was funny, we were joking around, she was holding my hand and she was just so in tune. I didn’t even know this woman. She randomly just walked in. So I sent her an email. I had to go through an actually kind of silly process to switch OB’s. It wasn’t as simple as saying, “I’d like this one now.” I had to get permission.
Anyhow, so I switched to her. I walked in and it was a totally different experience right away. She was the one who was like, “Do you want to try and go for a VBAC? Because you are a perfect candidate. You should do this.” And I was like, “Really?” She said, “Yeah!”
Well, I hadn’t really thought about that. So I went home, thought about it for a while, talked to some people and I was like, “Okay sure, yeah. Let’s do this. This doctor seems to think it’s a good idea so why not, right?”
I kept going through the pregnancy in a much more calm way thinking, “Okay, at some point I’m going to have to start thinking about this whole VBAC thing.” As we got closer, she started talking about how interventions are to be avoided the best we can to have a successful VBAC and how she wants me to stay on my feet for as long as possible. She wants me to labor at home for as long as possible. She wants me to start working on my squats and all of the stuff and I’m like, “Okay, okay. So no epidural, no Pitocin. That’s good. Okay,” and thinking about it.
I was at home and I stubbed my toe. My sweet husband— I was crying, “Oh, my toe hurts.” And my husband was like, “There, there.” And I go, “Oh my god. I have to hire a doula.” Because I realized that this man was not going to be able to support me enough through unmedicated labor.
Julie: That’s funny. That’s really funny.
Liz: I was like, “Nope. There, there is not going to work for me.” When I call epidural, I’m going to need someone to say, ”No.” So I started researching and then everything started clicking. I was like, “Oh my gosh. I have to have a relationship with this woman. She’s going to see me and my most vulnerable state. I should like her. We should agree on the same things fundamentally.” All these things that just didn’t even occur to me when I was looking for a doula the first time.
Then I met this super awesome chick named Jolie. We talked right away and both of us were like, “Oh, this is going to be great.” She had a lot of success with VBACs and I just loved her. Everything was wonderful. We met I think one time, maybe twice, and in one of those first or second meetings she mentioned, she was like, “Hey we are watching this COVID thing.” I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s a thing.” She was like, “Yeah. I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal especially because you are due in May. No big deal. But just so you know.”
Meagan: Little did she know…
Liz: Little did anyone know!
Meagan: I know, right?
Liz: She was like, “I’m sure this will all be taken care of, but you should know that in some states they are starting to limit hospital visitors. Just be aware of that.”
So after a long discussion, we decided, as things got worse with COVID and especially in Houston. Actually, we didn’t even really get bad until July, but my husband and I decided that it would be better for him to stay home with our older son because I didn’t want someone else coming into our home and for Jolie to go to the hospital with me because I wasn’t going to be able to have both of them. And I was like, “If someone’s going to be with me while I am in labor, I love my husband, but I think I would rather have my doula.”
That was the plan. I’m trying to think. I was around 39 weeks and then I started having that prodromal labor again. Laboring patterns through the night every ten minutes, sometimes every eight minutes. It got down to five minutes. Wake up in the morning, nothing.
Meagan: Prodromal labor is terrible. We actually wrote a blog about it because a lot of people don’t even know about it. There are things you can do to help, but sometimes it doesn’t even help then. I’m sorry that you’ve had this twice.
Liz: It just makes you feel crazy because you’re like, “Okay, this is it. We should start really thinking about it. It’s going to happen tomorrow.” Then you wake up and nothing. But what ended up really happening is that yes there was some prodromal labor, but what was really happening is, it would seem as if it was stopping during the day, but really my contractions were spreading out so much that I wasn’t taking note of them. So I think really I was in labor a lot longer than I thought I was, which is why everything ended up happening the way it did.
So it would happen, I labor at night, wake up in the morning, and then it was Mother’s Day. It was Sunday. It was Mother’s Day. Over the night, I was having pretty strong contractions. Jolie had finally said, she goes, “Look. Don’t even text me or call me unless you have to moan through these contractions because at this point you’re just going to drive yourself crazy thinking, ‘Oh this is it. Let me text Jolie. Oh, now it’s not it. You’re going to be disappointed. Relax, and let it happen.’”
Oh man, guys. I almost skipped the best part. Whew! That would have been rough. Okay, back up. She came up around Saturday before Mother’s Day and she said, “Can you think of anything emotionally that is keeping you from maybe fully going into labor?” And I was like, “No I think I’m really good. I think I feel really comfortable and confident about all of this.”
She was like, “Why don’t you just take a long bath tonight and maybe find a way to let some emotional release happen? Maybe you watch a movie that always makes you cry or listen to a song or something like that.”
I went into the bath and when I was in the bath, I started talking to the baby. I was like, “Hey kiddo. It’s time. You’re ready, almost 40 weeks. You can come out now.” And through that conversation I told my husband, I said, “It felt like I was reciting a monologue, this memorized monologue of a character that wasn’t even me because it was so tucked away in my feelings that I didn’t even know I felt this way.”
I started talking about how I didn’t know who this baby was and he was just this stranger who was coming in. I was so sad about losing my alone time with my older son and how we had gotten to a place where everything was so good with him. I had such a strong relationship with him and who’s this new kid who’s going to come in and mess this whole thing up? Is my kid going to be mad at me and resent me for having this other child? We finally figured it all out and now we’re going to start this whole process all over again. I just burst into tears in the bath, just crying, crying, crying, crying about it, and then went to sleep and started having pretty regular contractions.
I woke up the next morning for Mother’s Day and they kept going so my husband, my son and I had a picnic in the front yard while having contractions. I called my doula and said, “I think I am actually in labor now. I think it’s time to come over.” She goes, “Okay, well, I’m going to take my time.” I was like, “Yeah I’m not worried. We’ve still got time. No big deal.”
So she started to head over. I think it took her like an hour, an hour and a half to come over, nothing too big. We were sitting in my son’s playroom and I was building blocks with him and talking with him. I would stop and have a contraction. I would lean over and I would moan through it and then get back to talking with my son. I go, “Oh Jolie, I have to tell you this story. I have to tell you. I think I figured out the emotional thing that was keeping me from going into labor. I told her the story about how I was just so sad about missing time with my kid and then I started crying to her.
Literally, right after I finished that story and wiped my last tear, I leaned over and went from having a 45-second contraction every four minutes to having a minute and a half long screaming, so intense contraction. My two-year-old came over to me and put his hand on my back and held my back while I was having the contraction.
Then my water broke. It was like I finally let everything go and I said, “Okay, I think my water broke. It’s time to go to the hospital. These are getting closer.” It was like they were starting to speed up.
I was like, “Let’s get ready to go. Let’s start packing things.” I tried walking to the bathroom and fell to the ground and was like, “Whoa. Something is different. This is wild.”
I was scared. It went from manageable contractions, not great, but I could deal with them to, “I can’t think straight, this is so painful. So I think I made my way to the bathroom after that next contraction. I reached in to feel what was going on and the baby’s head was right there.
Jolie was like, “We need to go to the hospital now.” I said, “We are not making it to the hospital.” She was like, “Oh, okay.”
So you know, doula. Not a medical professional. She’s like, “We need to call the EMTs. We need to get someone here.” They call them and I had two more contractions and then was crowning after that.
Meagan: Oh my gosh!
Liz: Yeah. My house was built in 1940 and I have this little tiny half-bath underneath the stairs that’s smaller than Harry Potter‘s bedroom. Jolie is somehow standing in there and my husband is off holding my kiddo who’s like, “Why is mommy screaming?”
I start pushing because here’s the thing. This was the labor that I knew existed out there in the world that when you’re ready to push, you have no other choice than to push. You don’t need anyone to tell you, “Hey it’s time to push now.” You know what to do.
My husband started repeatedly telling me that he loved me and I very kindly told him to shut the explicit up.
Julie: That’s when you know you’re getting close when the F-bombs start dropping.
Liz: Yep. I was like, “Don’t you talk to me.” Jolie was rubbing my back. I said, “Get your hands off me. Don’t touch me.”
I was on hands and knees. The EMT came in after my son‘s head was out and in, I think it was three pushes, baby came out. I caught him, then the EMT who— gosh bless them but they had no idea what they were doing. They were just so out of their element. They were like, “We are used to car crashes, ma’am. I don’t know what this is.” Oh, at one point he goes, “Ma’am just push.” I said, “Sir, I know that.”
Meagan: “Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing. You just sit there.”
Liz: “You just be there.” So he takes the baby and I’m like, “Hey can you pass him to me?” He goes, “How?” And I said, “Through my legs.”
I suction bulbed him. I rubbed him and Jolie was like, “Holy moly.” I was like, “I know!”
We are holding this baby and then it’s like, “Oh my gosh what do we do now?” Because I had no plan to give birth at home. I mean, I had Jolie there but no medical professional. I just got this baby. What are we to do now? And placenta is still in, blah blah blah.
So this is where, depending on who you ask-- It is so interesting guys, how many people have opinions on a birth that has nothing to do with them.
Julie: Oh my gosh. Say it again because that is so true. I just can’t even.
Liz: It’s fascinating. There was a picture that my doula put up of me from this birth that kind of went vaguely viral and I would have people talking about how irresponsible it was of me to have a VBAC at home, and that this was clearly planned by me and my evil witch doula. We were just trying to cheat the system, right?
Julie: Oh, girl. I got called a selfish cow on my YouTube video of my home birth.
Liz: Isn’t that nice?
Julie: Yeah. I think the same girl commented on Meagan’s video that court-mandated Cesareans are a good thing. That’s what she said on Meagan’s video.
Meagan: Yeah. She attacked my VBA2C. I swear she told me that I deserved to go to jail because I had my baby at a hospital.
Julie: People are just awful.
Liz: Yeah. It’s wild. It is wild. So we had that and then on the completely other end of the spectrum-- So I ended up going to the hospital after I had the baby because I want to make sure everything‘s okay. It’s a VBAC. I don’t know if everything is cool with me. I don’t know if everything is cool with the baby. The placenta is still in.
I got up and walked myself out of my house carrying my baby still attached to a gurney and that’s where my doula took this picture of me getting on there. I got him breastfeeding. I am lying on this gurney and the sun is bright. It’s Mother’s Day. It’s really cool, right?
Then, on the other end of the spectrum, this other person was commenting so much on this picture about how ridiculous it was that I would go to the hospital and how it was that patriarchy that had made me think that I need medical assistance blah blah blah. The point is, is that you can’t win. I am either irresponsible because I had a home birth or irresponsible because I went to the hospital. You know? It’s interesting.
Julie: Yeah. I feel you on that one, especially right now.
Liz: There’s no good choice.
So I went. Everything was fine and it was good I went because I had some tearage that I needed to get taken care of. But the point is, is that I had this accidental, Mother’s Day, COVID-19 home birth. The cool thing was that I didn’t have to pick between my doula or my husband because everyone was there. I got to keep my kid safe.
I got to have my baby in this completely natural way that I didn’t even realize how much I needed. I went from having a birth where I had literally zero control and zero-knowledge and everyone else telling me what to do, and then a birth where I caught my own baby, suction bulbed him, and walked out carrying him while he was still attached to me. It’s so incredibly empowering and on Mother’s Day. It was so cool. It was so cool.
Meagan: So special. One that you won’t ever forget. That’s for sure.
Julie: Okay, I have got to ask though. Is that picture the one you attached to your story?
Julie: Okay. So if you want to see the picture, go to our-- Oh my gosh, I love it. I just opened it. Wow. Okay, if you want to see this picture which, trust me you do, go to our Facebook or Instagram pages. Search for The VBAC Link and look for her episode picture because wow. Like, wow. This is a really impactful picture.
Liz: It’s pretty cool.
Julie: I’m glad you shared it. Meagan, are you looking at it?
Meagan: No, I actually had just closed out of my thing so I’m going back in. As soon as you said that I was like, “I am going to find out.”
Julie: Well, we are just about out of time but before we wrap up and while Meagan‘s looking at the picture...
Meagan: Oh wow!
Julie: There you go. There it is.
Liz: We joke about how we want to frame it.
Meagan: Wow. Wow. I have chills. I have freaking chills. Oh, amazing. Look at your legs and the door, the patio steps. How awesome is that?
Liz: I know.
Julie: Yep. Oh my gosh.
Liz: It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty cool. Yeah, we want to frame it and put it in the bathroom he was born in so we can be like, “This was you.”
Julie: The look on your face-- It’s like the stillness and the peace but then clearly you just had a baby because of how your legs are and the patio steps and everything. There’s so much emotion and power in the picture.
Liz: Yeah, I love it. It is really good. I am so glad she caught it. I wasn’t even thinking about it. She just clipped it on my phone. When I got to the hospital later, I was looking through my phone and there was that picture. I was like, “Holy moly.” It’s a good one.
Julie: Well Meagan, do you want to do a really quick review on emotional fear releases?
Not even necessarily fear releases but just releasing emotions.
Meagan: Yeah. You experienced talking about these things. You said, “It was like I didn’t even know. I said it and it changed everything.” Sometimes we don’t think. Like you said, “No I’m fine. I’m good. I feel good about this.”
But sometimes there are other things. I had an experience with a client of mine who’s actually on the podcast as well. She is a VBA2C mom. She had started a podcast for stories of C-section birth. She’s had two of them. She feels inspired that C-section moms need to be able to share stories as well.
Anyways, so she’s in labor, her water breaks and nothing happens. The next day, nothing happens. The next day, nothing happens. I mean, she’s contracting on and off, here and there. It’s been three days with her water broken. She’s being monitored very closely by a skilled professional midwife and she even did dual care in a hospital. Everything was going great.
The weird thing is she would start contracting, start contracting, start contracting, and then it would stop. Then she’d start contracting again, stop. We are like, “What is going on?” The midwife said that she could feel the tension in her cervix. Like, actually feel it. She sent her home and everything and she’s like, “Come over. Just come be with me.” I was like, “Okay.” We go over and she is talking a lot about her podcast. She’s like, “Well if I have a vaginal birth then how can I have a podcast for C-sections?”
I was like, “Whoa whoa whoa. You can absolutely have a podcast for C-sections.” She’s like, “Yeah but then they’ll probably think I’m not really supportive because I chose to have a VBAC.” She started like going over what is in her head. I was like, “Okay. Let’s hold up.”
I got some paper and we started writing things down. I said, “Write down all your thoughts.” So we wrote them all down and then we solved them. If that makes sense.
We solved each of them. Right after she read them and we solved them, she burned them right there. On hands and knees, she burned them in this pot on her floor. Her, her mom, and I. We were all just gathered around her.
It was so interesting. After each piece of paper that she burned, her contraction would pick up. And not just happen, like intensity. So after we processed all of this, it really seriously did make a big difference. She went on and she totally rocked her VBA2C after five days of labor but there was a lot that she needed to let go emotionally and physically to allow this baby to come.
I also had an experience myself. There’s actually a picture of my midwife hugging me and talking to me. She’s like, “You’ve got to get out of your head. You’re going to be okay. Stop doubting yourself.” She kept saying, “Stop doula-ing yourself.” I’m like, “Oh okay.” I got out of that space and things changed.
You processed this thing that you weren’t super thinking about all the time, but obviously, it was there. Your subconscious was thinking about this and then it changed everything.
I think that the more you can work through things, fear release before you enter birth, the better. But know that it’s okay to work through it during labor too. It’s okay to stop and let labor go if that makes sense. Let it just be and then process what’s going on. Talk about it. That’s another reason why it’s so important to have people in your birth space that you trust, can discuss and talk about because once you discussed this and you said it out loud, to the point where someone was listening, boom. Things went from 0 to 90 it sounds like.
We talk about it in our course and we talk about it with our clients because it’s important. There are tons of ways you can do it. Like I said, you can burn them. Julie has a video on our YouTube, right? It’s on YouTube, not Instagram stories right? Or maybe it’s on both.
Julie: Yeah. Well, I think it’s on Instagram stories or IGTV and on our YouTube Channel, The Smokeless Fear Release. But notice, it’s only smokeless if you are only burning a small amount of paper because one time we did it in a class at my house. There were six people burning their papers and we totally set off my smoke alarms still.
Meagan: Yes. So there’s that, writing it down. In our course, we have a fear release activity that we do where we try to figure out where the stem of the fear is coming from because sometimes there’s a lot of static and it seems like it’s so much more than it really is. If we can break it down and find the stem, or the root I should say after last year, then all the little leaves on the fear tree don’t seem so big. Don’t we have a free download, Julie, on our blog?
Julie: I don’t think we have the fear release worksheet as a free download.
Meagan: Oh, maybe we don’t. Darn it. I was going to say, “We have one to download.”
Julie: It doesn’t have to be anything formal. You can just write down your feelings. Write down all the things that are on your mind. Just write and write and write. It doesn’t have to be perfect writing. It doesn’t have to be punctuated correctly. It doesn’t even have to be legible. Just write it down on paper. Don’t even go back and reread it. Write it down, then burn it or flush it down the toilet or-- probably rip it into small pieces before you do that-- or bury it, throw it into a river, shred it and toss it into the wind, or something to get rid of it. There’s a lot of power in doing that.
Meagan: We have some questions that I would love to ask you. We did go over maybe what some of the answers would be, but the first one is, what is a secret lesson or something that no one really talks about that you wish that you would have known ahead of time? What we just said pretty much covered that. You didn’t know all of these things, but is there anything you’d like to add to that?
Liz: Read the books. It’s a happy medium between making yourself crazy by hearing a bunch of different stories that could go wrong and just understanding the scope and sequence of birth.
Meagan: Right. Totally. The other question is, what is your best tip for someone preparing for a VBAC? We personally love this answer that you wrote down, but I love every single one of them. What would you say?
Liz: Listening to The VBAC Link religiously and I can’t-- Oh, I know how I found you. I had to think about it for a second.
Meagan: Yeah. How did you find us? We love learning how people find us.
Liz: It all just came from a hashtag. I started getting really into it. I got onto Instagram and started looking at VBAC as a hashtag. Y’all are right up there at the top.
Liz: You have all your little tips and I was like, “Who are these people?” I think I started following you and reading the stories. At some point, I saw a picture and it was like, “Listen to so and so‘s birth story.” I hopped on over. It was perfect timing with COVID happening. There was all this time to walk around and listen to podcasts all of a sudden. So that’s how it happened.
I would say, do that. I would say, find a book that resonates with you. There are lots and lots of different books that give you all kinds of advice. The one that I really loved and worked for me really well was-- I can’t remember who wrote it-- but it was Natural Childbirth in the Hospital or something to that extent. It talked about how to have a birth without medicine in the hospital. It was really cool.
Meagan: I am looking it up right now. Having a natural birth at the hospital does that sound--
Liz: That sounds really really familiar, yeah.
Julie: I think it’s Natural Hospital Birth or something.
Liz: That’s it.
Liz: The coolest thing about it is that it’s a workbook in a lot of areas. It has you do this thing that was so helpful to me. It had you write down your dream birth. Not like your dream reasonable birth, but your dream if space and time didn’t exist. You could do fantasy kind of things. Like, “Oh, well here you are in Arizona during the early birth.” Then when you’re transitioning, you were here. This music’s happening. I got to write down this crazy, ridiculous could never actually happen birth, like my ideal birth.
Going through that process I was able to find things that I could actually take into real life that would be important for me to experience during birth. I thought that was really cool.
Megan: I love that. I need to read more books. Sometimes I am just like, “Man.” You guys, I swear I just can’t read.
Julie: We all know that you don’t like to read by now, I think, and it’s okay. You don’t have to like to read. That’s what podcasts are for.
Meagan: I know. I know I just can’t do it but you learn such valuable things.
Julie: You know, I used to love to read. I buy books and I intend to read them, but now by the end of the day, kids are in bed, I crash and I’m like, “Reading is too much work.”
Liz: Book on tape, book on tape.
Meagan: Yeah, I do listen. I do listen to that and I cycle. So I sometimes will listen to books that way. It’s kind of nice. But yeah. Oh, another thing you added on that was fitness and good health. I love that. I am a big advocate for that. I’ve seen a big difference in my own births because of that.
Liz: That’s huge. I think that’s one of the amazing things that COVID contributed to because again, I had all this time now. It happened in this beautiful time in Houston where it actually was great weather. It was not hot in March when all this started. I was going on two hour walks every day with my two-year-old all around the park. That was so incredibly important to having a successful VBAC.
Meagan: I love it. Yep. With my first pregnancy, I gained 42 pounds and was really swollen. I was a hot mess. With the next one, I really dialed into nutrition, fitness, and all that stuff. I didn’t have a VBAC with that but I don’t think it was because of anything. I think that my all-around pregnancy and everything was so much better because of where I was at.
Liz: Yeah. I gained 50 pounds with my first so I hear you girl.
Meagan: Yeah. It’s funny. I have people in my neighborhood-- They didn’t know me when I was pregnant with my first. They’ve seen pictures and they’re like, “You’re unrecognizable.” I am like, “Yeah. I know. I was an Oompa Loompa.” But yeah.
Well, awesome. Thank you so much.
Liz: Thanks guys, it was awesome talking to you.
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