February 17, 2021

164 Jessica’s VBAC + PROM

Joining us today from Canada is our friend, Jessica. Determined to avoid another brutal Cesarean recovery, Jessica researched extensively and fought for her VBAC rights. When she experienced PROM for the second time, Jessica didn’t allow different opinions from different providers dictate what she knew she deserved. She refused a scheduled Cesarean, reminded providers that their hospital did in fact support VBAC induction, knew when her body needed an epidural, and got the VBAC of her dreams. 


Jessica’s preparation made all the difference in her outcome. We want that to be the case for you too!


Topics discussed today include:

  • How to know if all providers at a practice have the same views
  • Why you should ask open-ended questions
  • PROM: what it is and what to do if it happens to you

Additional links

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents

The VBAC Link T-Shirt Shop

3 Game-Changing Things to do When Your Water Breaks: The VBAC Link Blog

Episode sponsor

This episode is sponsored by our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents. 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 we are ready to help you too. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today.


Sponsorship inquiries

Interested in sponsoring a The VBAC Link podcast? Find out more information here at advertisecast.com/TheVBACLink or email us at info@thevbaclink.com.


Full transcript

Note: All transcripts are edited to correct grammar and to eliminate false starts and filler words. 


Meagan: Hello, hello, and welcome everyone. This is The VBAC Link with Julie and Meagan. We have a guest with you today from Canada. Her name is Jessica. She has an awesome story for you today. We were chitchatting a little bit before the episode began. We found out that she found us in the very beginning. It was right after her Cesarean, which is exciting to us because we want people to be able to find us during their journey of healing before they start preparing as well. So, that was really fun and exciting to hear. She has a fun story today. 


A cool highlight of her story is PROM. If you don’t know what PROM means, it means Premature Rupture of Membranes. That’s something that I actually had personally as well. But she was ruptured for quite a while. In fact, I think it was 40-- was it 48 hours? 40 hours?


Jessica: I think 72. Yeah. (Inaudible)


Meagan: 72! 72. But when-- (inaudible) before you started getting things going. Yeah. So, really cool because a lot of times people think that if their waters are broken for longer than 12 or 18 hours, even 24 hours, that it is need for an immediate Cesarean and it is not. I am excited to hear you share that part of your story. 


Review of the Week 


Meagan: As always, we have a Review of the Week, so we are going to dive into that review from Julie really quick before we get into this juicy story.


Julie: Yeah, I love reviews. I think we say it every episode. I can’t speak enough about the reviews because I want to get a little vulnerable here for a minute. Running a podcast is not always sunshine and butterflies. We absolutely love doing it. We love talking to the people that share their stories with us and we love being able to share their stories with you. But these reviews really, really are the things that keep us going when it gets to be a little bit difficult for us. 


So, if you haven’t already, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or Google or Facebook. You just never know when you’re going to make our day with a glowing review.


This review is from Apple Podcasts and it’s from futureballad. It’s called “VBAC Support at its Finest.” Just the title makes me smile. She says, “I absolutely love listening to these birth stories and I love how positive Julie and Meagan are! They give facts to go along with each story. They also include birth stories where the VBAC didn’t end up happening. It’s so important to acknowledge it doesn’t always work out. But, a woman of strength is someone who has become empowered by knowledge and uses that knowledge to advocate for herself no matter what the outcome is. I am going to VBAC like a boss in November when I birth our second son. I will be doing it knowing I have the support of The VBAC Link community.”


That makes me so happy. Okay, “VBAC like a boss”-- that is a shirt. It’s in our shop at thevbaclink.com/bombfire. That shirt came from our friend, Emily, who shared her story with us a while back. She said-- there is a “TOLAC like a boss” or a “VBAC like a boss”. I love our little bonfire shirts. We have some new designs coming out from some of our most recent previous episodes.


Also, I want to tell you about an episode that is coming out in the next two or three weeks. We are actually interviewing a few CBAC moms, so parents who tried for a VBAC but ended up in a repeat Cesarean. We are going to talk to five or six of them. They’re going to share with us their stories about what it is like coming out of a birth that didn’t end up like they wanted to, what it’s like to not to get your VBAC, and what they wish people would know about parents who tried so hard for a VBAC but didn’t get the birth that they wanted.


It’s such a powerful episode and we are really excited to put it out to you. That review just reminded me of that. It’s important to us to share that things don’t always go the way you want. While a lot of birth is preparation and education and confidence, some of it is just dang luck.


Meagan: Yeah.


Julie: I mean, some of it is just the cards you are dealt and knowing how to deal with those things is important to us to share with you, so that’s why we do it.


Meagan: Yeah, and I love how she said we even-- like you were just highlighting, we even share those stories. We have gotten a lot of messages and actually, I am trying to think of the word.


Julie: How to say it nicely--


Meagan: Really angry. I’m going to say really angry that we do share CBAC stories and it makes me sad when we receive these messages. Although we respect everyone’s opinions and feelings, we want to remind everybody that, just like Julie said, it doesn’t always turn out exactly how we wanted to. But guess what? Even sometimes those experiences-- like my second C-section was not what I wanted. I didn’t want to be on that table again, but it was a healing experience for me and a much more positive experience. I felt so much better walking out of that situation.


These are learning experiences. They are growing experiences. They are healing experiences and even though-- yes, we do. We promote VBAC and we want you guys to know your options for VBAC. It is not fair for us to forget CBAC. It’s just not and it’s important. So, if you are angry, I want to say we are sorry, but we are not sorry at the same time. We respect your decision not to listen to those episodes, but it’s just so important to learn and hear.


A lot of times when we are struggling, I know for me personally when I was struggling, I realized there was still a lot of processing that I needed to do and that’s why I was struggling. So, know that we are here for you and we are sorry if you are one of those angries, but we love you.


Julie: One of those angries.


Meagan: But we love you.


Julie: We love you, no matter if you are angry, or happy, or sad, or excited. We love all of you. If you are looking for stories that are VBAC stories only, you simply have to look at the title. If it says, “So-and-so‘s VBAC”, it’s a VBAC story. If it says “So-and-so‘s CBAC” or “So-and-so’s Uterine Rupture”, then it is a CBAC or a uterine rupture story.


And so, that’s an easy way to sift through them if you’re looking for certain advice.


Meagan: We respect your decision not to listen to whatever ones.


Julie: But we wish you would because it will really help you better prepare.

Episode sponsor


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. 

Jessica’s story


Julie: We should probably stop talking about this. You can tell it’s been a while since we have recorded because we are really super chatty right now.


Meagan: We are going to turn the time over to Jessica. Alright, let’s dive in. Ms. Jessica, would you like to start sharing your story and stop listening to us gab?


Jessica: I mean, I am enjoying the conversation, but I only have so much time, so I will get started. I got pregnant with my C-section baby when I was 19. I really thought that I was invincible. I know a lot of teenagers have that mindset. You don’t really think that bad things can happen to you. I thought that I was going to have an all-natural, medication-free birth, and was preparing for that, and would tell my friends how excited I was to be planning this med-free birth. 


My aunt recommended that I went with midwives, so I found local midwives that I went with. Here in Canada, they are covered by a provincial health insurance, so that’s definitely a perk when you are a young mom being able to plan a home birth. So, that’s what we talked about. I wasn’t opposed to a hospital birth, but they were pushing home birth on me, so that was the plan if everything was going well. We would have a home birth with a baby and then if not, we would go to the hospital. But I didn’t think we would end up at the hospital because I thought everything would go as planned, being young and not understanding how births can be complicated.


I was 39 weeks and four days pregnant when my water broke. My first thought was, “Oh, the baby is going to be here in 12 hours now. Everybody goes into labor when their water breaks.” But it didn’t happen. The midwives confirmed the water broke and they said, “Oh, just rest. Sleep it off.” 


Labor usually starts anywhere between 48 to 72 hours. Most people within 24 hours, but they said we could wait until Friday. And then, the next day we woke up. I had a new midwife on-call and she said, “Oh well, we should just go in and induce.” I was eager to meet my baby. I was tired of being pregnant and I didn’t know what an induction was or that there were risks with an induction. I just thought, “Okay, I will get some medication, and get it going, and the baby will be here in a couple of hours.” But, that wasn’t the case.


I was 4 centimeters dilated when I showed up to the hospital, which they said was great, and that labor would probably be quick, and the baby would be here soon. But 12 hours after starting Pitocin, I was still only 4 centimeters. They suggested that we throw the natural birth plan out the window and get an epidural, but that vaginal birth was still possible. After getting the epidural, my baby started having non-reassuring heart rates and because of the lack of progression, they suggested a cesarean. 


I agreed, not knowing that there was anything else we could try to get me to dilate. I had been laying on my back for hours at this point. We didn’t try turning the epidural down. We didn’t even try a peanut ball. We just went straight for the OR. The surgery was three hours after they were concerned about the non-reassuring heart rate. So, looking back I am like, “Was it really that urgent?” They made it seem urgent, but I always question if maybe we could have tried more things. I didn’t know that there were things to try. I thought birth just happened and that you couldn’t really have any power to change that. 


My recovery was horrible. My incision didn’t close properly and it took three months before I was healed enough to function normally. I found that recovery really traumatizing and never wanted another surgery like that again.


When I got pregnant 15 months later, my goal was VBAC all the way. I really didn’t want to end up on the table again, mostly because of the recovery and my fear of missing out on a summer with my toddler. I planned a home birth again. I was more adamant this time that it was going to be a home birth. I rented a pool this time. I made a whole binder filled with resources from The VBAC Link. I printed out stuff from ACOG and SOCG, which is a Canadian version of ACOG, and had all the documents I could about VBAC. 


I would bring it to the midwives because they were more cautious and on the medical side. They said a hospital birth might be a better choice for VBAC, but I was adamant that I wanted to be at home. They supported me with that decision, but then I was 40 weeks and I had been doing everything. Walking every day, The Miles Circuit, bouncing on my ball, drinking all the red raspberry leaf tea, everything I could to get my labor going and then my water broke again.

I was in denial the first day. I didn’t even tell my husband. I kept it to myself. I was like, “This can’t be real.” My water can’t break before labor again because I knew that that wasn’t a good sign for me. Eventually, I did call my midwife and I let her know, but I told her my water had been broken significantly less time than it had because I didn’t want her to push induction. I didn’t want her to push a repeat Cesarean. So, she came. Confirmed that my waters had been broken and we agreed that the next day we would go to the hospital for a non-stress test. 


When we went there, we had a consultation with the OB who looked at me and said, “We have to do a C-section. There is no other option. If we do another induction, you are going to fail. Your body couldn’t birth your first baby.” I guess I had an ultrasound at some point in my other trimester and they were estimating that the baby was going to be in the 97th percentile.


Meagan: Oh man.


Jessica: Yeah. They were like, “This baby is too big. She is not going to--” or, we didn’t know it was a girl. But they said, “The baby is not going to fit. You need a C-section.” I said, “Well, do I have any other options?” They were like, “Well, we can’t force you to have a C-section, so you can go home. And so, we went home.”


Meagan: Good for you. Good for you though.


Jessica: The OB and the midwife weren’t that happy, but I said, “I will come back for NSTs every day until I go into labor. I’m not opposed to that,” but I didn’t want to agree to a C-section. The next morning, I woke up with a green tinge on the pad that was collecting amniotic fluid and I knew that wasn’t a good sign. So, I called the midwife and let her know. I guess they had been scheduling C-sections for me every day in case I agreed to one, so she was like, “We have an OR ready.”


Meagan: Are you serious? They were just doing that behind your back?


Jessica: Yeah. They were just preparing.


Meagan: Interesting.


Jessica: So they said, “You can show up at the hospital at 11:00 a.m. and the baby will be here by 2.” It was the day-- like, when I got pregnant, I was hoping that the baby would come that day. So, I was like, “Okay, I guess at least I got the birthday I wanted.” But in the car, I was crying to my husband saying, “I really don’t want to do surgery and I know that I can’t be pregnant longer with meconium or an infection. It’s not fair to the baby to put my birthing desires ahead of their safety.” 


But I said, “I will take tomorrow as the baby’s birthday if that means I can birth this baby vaginally. What happened was, we showed up at the hospital and it was a different OB on-call. He was the one that had done the big baby ultrasound and predicted the size, so I was like, “Oh shoot. He is definitely going to want to do the C-section. There is no getting out of this now.” 


We show up and everybody is telling him how my birth was “failure to progress” last time, that the induction didn’t go well, and all of the stuff and the reasons why I should have the C-section. He asked them, “Oh, well how long have the membranes been ruptured?” 


They said, “About 48 hours at least at this point.” He said, “Why haven’t we done a Cesarean yet?” They said, “She doesn’t want a C-section.” He was like, “Well, why haven’t they done an induction?” They said, “All of the other OB‘s refuse induction because she can’t give birth essentially.” And so, he asked for my operative report and looked it over. They didn’t list “failure to progress” as the reason for the C-section.


Julie: Awesome.


Jessica: They only listed the non-reassuring fetal heart tones, so he said, “Okay. Based on that, we will do an ultrasound and see how big this baby is.” But he was like, “I think an induction is a reasonable option here.”


Julie: That’s awesome.


Jessica: “And even though there is a low success rate, we will go ahead with it if that’s what she wants.” And so, they did an ultrasound. They were guessing that the baby would be around 8 pounds. We went ahead with Pitocin. They did a low dose. It was going really well until I hit transition. I made it to 8 centimeters unmedicated and then I was begging for the epidural. But this was during COVID. I was wearing a mask and it was just me and my husband. My husband wasn’t the greatest support. He was freaking out the whole time. 


So, I got the epidural and then within two hours of the epidural, I had a really pain-free, easy pushing and birth. They did take her to the NICU for half an hour just because the membranes had been ruptured so long. They wanted the pediatrician to look her over, but she was totally healthy and only weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces. So, not 97th percentile at all.


Meagan: Go figure. You know what? Sometimes they are spot on. Sometimes they really are. They are really close, right? But it seems like nine times out of 10-- this is my own number, they are not.


Jessica: Yeah, they are way off.


No failing in birth


Meagan: Yeah. That is so awesome. I love how you’re like, “You know, I worked through this. I was working really hard and I found the spot. I needed something different and I got that.” Because I think a lot of people that want to go unmedicated but choose an epidural, in the end, they really can beat themselves up. I loved hearing that you were like, “Yeah. I had a mask on. I was hot. I was 8 centimeters. I have been doing this for a long time, and I need an epidural, and I want an epidural, and I feel good about that.” I love that you pointed that out because it’s not-- you used this word earlier when you were like, “Or if we induced you, you would ‘fail’,” which clearly you didn’t, but that “fail” word.


We let that “fail” word creep into the birth world way too often in my opinion. Because if we don’t go unmedicated, we “fail”. If we don’t have a vaginal birth, we “failed”. If we don’t go into spontaneous labor or get induced we “failed”, you know? If we don’t breastfeed our baby, we “failed”. There are so many “fails” out there. I just want to wipe them all the way. Get the biggest bottle of Windex and wipe it all down because there’s no failing in birth. There is no failing in birth. 


If you step back and you look at what we as humans are doing, wow. It’s incredible, right? So, I love it. I love that you took charge and you’re like, “I’m going home and I will be back. I know when I need to be back and hey, these are the options,” and I’m glad that he was willing to induce and supported you in that. You deserve that completely.


Jessica: Yeah, but it definitely goes to show the luck of the draw because if it had been a different OB, it would have been a different story.


Finding supportive providers


Meagan: A totally different story. Yeah, no I agree. That is something when we talk about finding providers. I am just going to be talking about a whole bunch of random stuff, Julie.


Julie: I love it. Well, I have some stuff too. So when you are done, I will do my stuff.


Meagan: Yes, perfect. So, finding providers right? With VBAC specifically, and I encourage first-time parents to go out there and find a provider in the way that a lot of VBAC parents find a provider if that makes sense. Go out there and ask some of the questions and really from the very beginning, see what this provider’s thoughts are on Cesarean. So, when it comes down to it when you find out like Julie and I did that your provider has a 46% C-section rate--


Julie: After the fact--


Meagan: Yeah, after the fact that you could know these things before the fact and save yourself a lot of potential heartache in different ways, right? So anyway, I encourage everyone to go out there and find their provider. One of the questions that I feel is super important when you are looking for a provider is, “Will you be at my birth no matter what?” If the answer is, “No,” “Who will be at my birth? Do they have the same views as you?” Honestly, don’t hesitate to say, “I need their names. I want to meet them.” Don’t hesitate to interview them and say, “What are your thoughts on C-section?” Not, “Do you support C-section, yes or no?” “What are your thoughts?” 


Or, I mean VBAC.


Julie: You mean VBAC.


Meagan: I mean VBAC. Even as I am saying, I’m like, “Wait. On VBAC. Do you support VBAC, yes or no?” Those are just easy questions to be like, “Of course I do, yeah. We do them all the time.”


Julie: “We can do whatever type of birth you want.”


Meagan: Yeah. But like, really. “What are your thoughts on VBAC? What is your experience with VBAC?” Asking them these open-ended questions, but do not hesitate if your provider says, “You know what? It could be me, John, Jack, or Jill.”


Julie: Joe.


Meagan: Really, it could be any of these people. Don’t hesitate to interview them because like she said, it was the luck of the draw, and luckily she got the good one that was willing to work with her and support her. So, that is my little snippet on--


Julie: Meagan was painting condos all day yesterday, so she is a little tired.


Meagan: I know. I am so tired. I couldn’t even get my butt up this morning on time to get to the gym. I went to the gym, but not on time.


Julie: Oh, right. Wait, can I add something to that really fast?


Meagan: Yeah, of course.


Julie: And then I will let you go back on your snippets.


Meagan: My snip bit?


Julie: Snip bit. I had a client yesterday text me. She is going to her 36-week appointment today and at my first prenatal appointment with my clients, I always give them a list of questions to take to their provider. I actually stole Meagan‘s idea. I stole it from Meagan.


Meagan: You did? What idea?


Julie: Meagan does this too. The one where you’re just like, “Oh, ask your provider about IV access, eating and drinking during labor, induction, due dates, what to do after your water breaks, all of those questions.” I use them too now. So, she texted me and she was like, “Okay. I have my 36-week appointment tomorrow.” We are having our second prenatal tonight actually which is really fun.


But she said, “I am having my 36-week prenatal. Are there any specific questions I should ask my provider?” I’m like, “Okay. Well, if you already asked the questions that I gave you at our last visit and you have a different provider today, then ask them the same questions,” because she’s in a practice with three different providers that rotate, three different OBGYNs, which is actually really a small number, which is great because you have less chance of getting some random person you’ve never met.


But every provider differs a little bit in how they approach birth or sometimes a lot. Sometimes they differ drastically. Like clearly with Jessica‘s providers, the one was just so anti-VBAC. We’ve got a scheduled Cesarean. The other provider came in and was like, “Well, why haven’t we started inducing her yet?” Those views and opinions are so important. 


As many providers’ views you can know ahead of time going into your birth, will help you be able to navigate through those views and opinions as you navigate through your labor. You’ll be able to anticipate, “Oh, so-and-so isn’t really a fan of induction,” or “So-and-so would rather me have a VBAC,” or “So-and-so wishes I would go into labor before 41 weeks,” or whatever it ends up being. But the more providers to talk to and ask questions to, ask the same questions to all of the different providers. Just because one provider answered your question in a way that is satisfactory to you doesn’t mean another provider in the practice will. 


Then I also told her, and this is something I started telling all of my clients. Question everything. Everything they suggest or recommend, ask, “Why? Why are we doing this?” Or you can use the BRAIN acronym. “What are the benefits? What are the risks? Are there any alternative options?” And then really I only say, “What happens if we do nothing?” 


Just question everything even if you don’t think it’s a bad idea. Question, “Why are we doing it?” because that creates a really positive dialogue between you and your provider and lets your provider know that you are an educated and informed decision maker and participant in your birth. It creates trust between you and your provider. Your provider is going to learn to trust you and your ability to think critically and make decisions surrounding your circumstances. You are going to create more trust in your provider or maybe you’ll find out that you don’t trust your provider and then you’ll have to make a change there. 


And so, that was on my mind from my conversation last night with my client. She was like, “What questions do I ask?” Well, ask the same exact questions to a different provider who may be at your birth.


What’s your next snippet, Meagan?




Meagan: No, I love everything that you said. I wanted to also talk about PROM like I talked about at the beginning of the episode. Because, yeah. 48 hours before labor had started and before anyone was willing to do anything, right? So, PROM. This is something that when it happened to me, I was told it happens to 10% of people. It happened to me three times. I was like, “What? How is that even possible?”


Julie: It happened to two out of three of my spontaneous labors as well.


Meagan: Yeah, it’s so crazy. We have a study here. It says that it actually only happens in 8% of term pregnancies. It does typically start within 24 to 46 hours of water breaking. But if it doesn’t, what can we do? What are some things that we can do to maybe try and get things going while we are waiting? 


Rest. One is rest. As Jessica did, she went home. Where is the best place to rest? At home where are you are comfortable. You are in your space and you can have your bed and everything right there. So rest, rest, rest. It is so important to just rest because when labor does begin, as I am sure Jessica will contest, it is hard work.


Julie: You are going to need that energy.


Meagan: We need that energy and so, really, really rest. Now, it doesn’t mean you need to be out cold snoring, okay? Although that is great. If you can actually sleep, that is great because as you are sleeping, the oxytocin hormone is kicking in and producing. It is just so great. 


But, rest. Just rest your body. Don’t go out and feel like you have to run up the hills trying to get labor going. 


The number two suggestion would be, get that baby in a good position. Now, as we have been learning over the 2020 year and even 2019 year, we don’t have to have these babies in any specific spot. It is called balance. We need to find balance for this baby to find the right spot for them. We really always suggest to our own clients and people out there, Miles Circuit, Spinning Babies®, The Three Sisters, going in, resting on each side, doing side-lying, and things like that to really encourage baby is getting in that good position. 


Number three is, avoiding routine cervical checks and watch your temperature. As Jessica mentioned in her story when she was going to the hospital, she didn’t want to-- I’m trying to remember, Jessica, the exact words, but you didn’t want to risk the health of your baby based on infection, and meconium, and things like that for the birth that you desired. Something that we can do to watch and make sure that things are going okay and we are not getting into a risky situation is avoiding cervical exams. Now, with Jessica being at home, she was avoiding those cervical exams.


A lot of the time, now this is here in Utah, I am not sure what is very standard in other states and countries. But every two hours or so, providers or nurses will suggest a cervical exam because they want to see what progress is being made in those two hours. Sometimes it is a, “I will just listen to your body and see what is going on, and then we will check and see if anything dramatic changes,” but a lot of the times, especially when we are waiting to see what is going on, if labor is going to really be going, and what we are wanting to do, they will encourage it every couple of hours. Avoiding that is the best we can do because we don’t need unnecessary bacteria going into our vaginas, right?


Jessica: That is the one thing they did well. They didn’t do a cervical check until we went for the scheduled C-section. So, even at the NST the day before, it was completely hands-off. Yeah, they really waited until we knew that the baby was going to be coming within a reasonable timeframe before anybody did anything to increase the risk of infection.


Meagan: So great.


Julie: That’s really awesome.


Meagan: Yeah. That’s really, really great. It’s okay to say, “I don’t want my cervix checked right now. I’m not feeling anything different or nothing has really changed to the point where I feel that it warrants a cervical exam.”


Also, watching your temperature. So, especially if you’re going to labor at home, it’s a good idea if your water breaks to just check your temperature and be mindful of how you’re feeling. We say this because if bacteria starts growing and an infection begins, it is common to get a fever. That is our body‘s natural reaction to fight against infection. Sometimes we can get fevers even in labor because we are laboring really, really hard so our body temperature can go up, but a lot of the times we can get a fever with an infection or the baby’s heart rate can get really high.


Julie: A fever can also be a side effect of an epidural. It can be a side effect of an epidural and not be a sign of an infection at all if you do have an epidural. So, that is something to remember.


Meagan: Yes, it is. Exactly. Yeah, something to remember. Another sign that infection could be present is the baby’s heart rate is actually high. So, anyway. Taking your temperature and being mindful of how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling great and then all of a sudden you’re feeling really awful like you’re getting the flu, and you have a fever, and you are at home, it may be a good idea to go into wherever you are going. Unless you’re at home, then you would discuss this with your provider. But, go to the hospital or your birthing location and further assess and see what next steps need to be taken.


Those are three ideas that you can do when your water breaks to try and help things get going. And obviously, activity and things like that, will all help as well. Pumping, but those are some of our three tops.


Julie: I mean, I think I wrote that blog.


Meagan: You did write that blog.


Julie: I think it might be due for a rewrite because I think it needs to be updated. I was reading through it earlier and I was like, “Well, I write a little differently now.” Did you notice that, Meagan?


Meagan: Yes. You guys, we have so many blogs. If you haven’t checked out our blogs, check it out. It’s at vbaclink.com/blog. We have tons of blogs. Yes, we are rewriting blogs. We are writing new blogs. So, give it a look. I mean, seriously. We have them on almost all of the main topics and even then some.


Same start, different outcomes


Julie: I want to make note that Jessica’s Cesarean birth and her VBAC birth were both induced births. They both started out in a similar way and she still had very different outcomes. A lot of times we, when we are preparing for VBAC, are hung up on mental hurdles, and whenever we get past the point of where a Cesarean happened, we can finally mentally release that, right? 


I dilated to a 4 before my Cesarean and so, once I was in active labor, I was riding high. I’m like, “This is great. I am totally going to do this.” I see that with a lot of my clients. Sometimes they get to 10 and pushing before they have their Cesarean, but sometimes they weren’t even given a fair chance at all.


When labor starts all the same-- like Meagan, I remember with your third birth, your VBAC after two C-sections baby, your water broke before labor started again, for the third time. I remember you saying how frustrated you were that you felt like it was all happening again.


Meagan: Yeah. I was throwing a fit in the driveway, like throwing my arms up in the air, stomping. My neighbor was out and just looking at me. My husband was just like, “Just let her. Just let her.”


But, yeah. Well, it was just hard and that’s fine. I had a couple of contractions before, but really nothing. My water broke. I was just like, “Why does it have to happen like this again? Why can’t I just go into labor before this happens?” And just throwing a fit. But, you know, it was great.


Julie: It ended up great and you got your vaginal birth. And Jessica, you got your VBAC after your Cesarean. I just want to say that just because your birth starts out similarly to your Cesarean birth does not mean it is going to end the same way. Sometimes we get hung up on that and mental blocks can hang up labor. 


So, do your best as you prepare, going into your birth and your VBAC journey, that you are ready to accept all different ways for labor to start whether it’s induced, whether it’s natural, whether you plan on going unmedicated but end up deciding to get the epidural because that’s the best choice for you and your baby. Be prepared for your birth to take a number of different journeys because the more journeys you can imagine and prepare for, the less likely you are to be caught off guard if those things happen during your birth.


Jessica: I had the same meltdown when my water broke. I was crying holding my toddler, complaining about how this could happen twice.


Meagan: Yes. It was so frustrating. I think that is something that maybe we needed to get out. Maybe we needed to just get all of that emotion out for us to take the next step and the next direction. Even though that wasn’t contractions really going right away, it was a release that needed to happen so when they did start, they could start.


Julie: I think you make a really good point too. I am remembering something that I read a while ago. I used to have all my clients do a fear release or something like that if I felt like they were hung up on emotions. But now, I am finding myself more telling them to just do something that makes them cry. Just anything. 


Watch The Notebook at the end. My husband laughs at the end of The Notebook, but I am crying every time. Watch your wedding video or birth video. Read a letter that your partner wrote you years ago or something. Anything else to cry, because once those tears start flowing, your body releases whatever emotions it is holding onto through your tears. 


And so, who knows? Maybe you guys throwing fits and screaming and getting angry and upset and frustrated about that let your body release what it needed to in order for your labors and your birth to turn out the way they did. Who knows?


Meagan: Yeah, exactly.




Julie: Okay, but Jessica. I’m going to ask you these questions now. I want to read the answer that you read for the first one, but you can say whatever you want for the second one.


The first one is, what is a secret lesson or something no one really talks about that you wish you would have known ahead of time when preparing for birth?


I absolutely loved how you worded this, so I’m just going to read it word for word.


You said, “This is a hard one. I wish I would have known the statistics about complications that arise in birth as a first-time mom and what a doula was. Now that I am in the birth world, everything feels like common sense. But as a young mom, I didn’t even know what Pitocin induction was or that an emergency C-section could happen to anyone.” 


I love that because I feel like all of us first-time moms can echo that sentiment of your message. Now that you are in the birth world and you are starting to become a doula and all those things, it feels like common sense, because it really does. Even sometimes when I’m working with clients or especially first-time moms, I have to remind myself that they don’t know what they don’t know. Going into birth as a first-time mom is just a whole different ball game. But, I really loved how you worded that. So, thank you for that.


Now the second question is, what is your best tip for someone preparing for a VBAC?


Jessica: I think finding the information to be able to make informed decisions or finding a doula or knowledgeable person who can help you make those informed decisions because you would hope that providers act in your best interest, but I know in my birth cases they were telling me-- I had to pull up the documents and show them themselves when they said, “Oh, we don’t induce VBACs,” and I was like, “This is supported right in your policy here.”


So, it would be helpful if I didn’t do all that work myself to have somebody who was knowledgeable, like a doula, to be there to provide the information and the knowledge needed to make empowered and informed decisions.


Meagan: Oh, so many good messages in this. Thank you so much Jessica again for sharing your story and for being with us today.


Jessica: Thank you for having me.




Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

They invested so much of their time, energy, money, and hearts into their VBAC preparation. They craved immediate skin-to-skin, fought for their rights, and advocated for themselves. They labored hard, sacrificed for their babies, and felt the heartbreak that comes from an unplanned repeat Cesarean. They found healing, and they found each other.


Now, these 7 Women of Strength want to share it all with you. 


How does it feel to have a CBAC?

We invite you to sit in this space with us and find out. 


Additional links

Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program

CBAC Support - The VBAC Link Community Facebook Group

Episode sponsor

This episode is sponsored by our very own Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program. It is the most comprehensive VBAC doula training in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced video course. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more information and sign up today.


Sponsorship inquiries

Are you interested in sponsoring The VBAC Link podcast? Find out more information here at advertisecast.com/TheVBACLink or email us at info@thevbaclink.com.


Full transcript

Note: All transcripts are edited to correct grammar and to eliminate false starts and filler words. 


Meagan: Alright, alright. Hello, everybody. This is The VBAC Link, and you are with myself, Meagan, and Julie. We have a special treat. You are with a whole bunch of other people today, and we are so excited that you are going to be able to hear from all of them. This episode is going to be powerful. It’s going to be emotional. It might be something that fuels fire and something that you totally relate to. 


I want to start the episode off by encouraging you to have an open mind and an open heart as you’re listening to these people’s stories. We are going to be talking about CBAC today. If you didn’t know, I had a CBAC. I wanted a VBAC with my second, and it ended up in a Cesarean. In so many ways, I feel like I can relate to all of these people. I can’t wait to hear their personal journeys, and feelings, and stories. 


We do have a special message. We are going to skip over our review of the week, and Julie is going to go over the differences between CBAC, VBAC, and scheduled C-section. Is that what you said?


Julie: You got it.


Meagan: Yes. Alright. So, we are going to get into that, and then we will get into these awesome stories. 

Episode sponsor

Julie: Birth workers, listen up. Do you want to increase your knowledge of birth after a Cesarean? We created our Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program just for you. It is the most comprehensive VBAC doula training in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced video course. This course is designed for birth workers who want to take their VBAC education to the next level so you can support parents who have had a Cesarean in the most effective ways. We have created a complete system, a step-by-step road map that shows exactly what you need to know in order to support parents birthing after a Cesarean. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more information and sign up today. That’s thevbaclink.com. See you there.


Defining VBAC, CBAC, RCS, and ERCS


Julie: Alright. I just cannot tell you how much I love this group of women that are in this conference right now. I am looking at our little recording screen. Everyone has different colored circles with their first initials in it, and it warms my heart because today-- I am going to share a little bit. Not too many personal details, but we had a Facebook group for all the people that were sharing their stories today just to relay information and make sure everyone is on the same page. So, I filled everyone in earlier this afternoon on the details, and I left to go about doing all my other things.


But when I came back to Facebook Messenger, there were dozens and dozens of messages from these moms talking about what they were going to say on the show, and how their feelings are, and getting really vulnerable with each other, and honestly creating some of the strongest connections. I could literally feel the connections growing and strengthening just in the Facebook conversation. It was so-- I don’t even know the right word.


Meagan: Powerful. It was really cool.


Julie: So endearing. Yes, powerful. I love it. And so, I am looking forward to this episode. These are all moms who attempted a vaginal birth after a Cesarean but ended up with a C-section rather than a VBAC. Before we get into the stories, I want to go over some terminology because the acronyms are pretty nuts, right? You have VBAC, HBAC, CBAC, RCS, VBA2C, HBA2C, and sometimes it can be really confusing.


Generally, VBAC is obviously vaginal birth after cesarean. RCS or ERCS refers to parents who choose to schedule a repeat Cesarean whether they want to have a Cesarean or whether it’s because of medical reasons. They may not want to do it, but they feel like it’s the best thing for them. And then CBAC stands for Cesarean birth after Cesarean, which is defined as parents who attempted a trial of labor, or labored after a Cesarean and ended up with a repeat Cesarean.


We want to go through and identify the unique challenges that these parents face and the different struggles and emotions that they go through, and maybe bring some things up that you might not have considered as you prepare for your own VBAC. We encourage you to listen-- birth worker, parent, anybody, stay tuned because there is going to be some really, really good information here from some really, really strong and powerful women.




Alright. I made Paige go first. Paige transcribes our podcast, so we can read them now.


Meagan: Yay.


Julie: Wherever you listen to podcasts, you can also read them too, and she is going to be transcribing this one. We absolutely love Paige. Paige was a member of our VBAC Link Community. Well, she still is. But, she suggested that we create a CBAC group just for parents who were in the community that ended up with a repeat Cesarean so that they could have some support and like-minded people.


Paige is the founder of our CBAC community as well. We are so grateful for her for everything that she does. We are just going to talk about Cesarean and ask questions. Alright. So, Paige.

What is something you wish people would know about your CBAC or just CBAC in general?


Paige: I would say that first off, it wasn’t our fault. The reality is that some birth outcomes are just the luck of the draw in spite of the best prep. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I did everything under the sun and more to set myself up for a successful VBAC after two C-sections. I was going for my second VBAC attempt this time around. This was in June of last year.


Some Cesareans truly are necessary. There’s a trend right now in the birth world to avoid a C-section at all costs, and it can feel really painful to moms that did everything to do just that but didn’t get it. So, it sounds really simple, but sometimes we need a reminder that Cesareans truly can be necessary.


Meagan: That’s so true and not only necessary but a positive experience too, right? They don’t have to be scary and negative. Okay, so question number two is:


What is one of the biggest emotions you are working through or had to work through post-birth?


Paige: I narrowed it down to two, actually, which are confusion and embarrassment. I was mostly so confused how my intuition told me so strongly this would happen for me, and then it didn’t. Literally, I woke up from general anesthesia after my second birth, so my first CBAC, and I was so empowered from the labor experience. My first words were, “Can I do that again? I want to try that again”. From that moment on, that’s when I started preparing for my VBAC after two C-sections.


I felt so good after every prenatal once I got pregnant. Every chiropractic appointment, every pelvic floor, I knew that I was on the right path. I had every reason to be confident it was going to happen. So now, learning to trust that those feelings were real, the journey with something that I needed in spite of the outcome and that my intuition didn’t lead me astray is something that I am still working on.


And then, that level of embarrassment. One of the main reasons I was going for a VBAC was because I wanted to be a champion of VBAC. I wanted to be a walking example of empowered birth. With my first pregnancy and birth, I was so afraid of birth in general. I literally did not think I would survive. So, I wanted to be the success story of going from complete fear to complete confidence and then showing women that this was what we were made to do. I feel like I still came a long way in how confident I was, and how much I have grown, and how strong I am now. 


But now, with my outcome, it’s tempting to feel like my story makes people afraid to go for a VBAC instead of feeling inspired to do it. But, I still believe in VBAC. I am still so passionate about it. I love it, and I will always long for one.


Julie: Yeah. That is some really real stuff. I think it is really important. I think we will probably talk a lot about this during the episode where people get told, “Oh, at least you have a healthy baby,” or, “Aren’t you so grateful for your Cesarean? It saved your life.” 


I think it’s really important to recognize that there are so many emotions surrounding this, but also-- also, we are grateful that we have a happy, healthy baby and mom. Sometimes, people don’t consider that mental health comes into play when we talk about the health of baby and mom. Sometimes babies aren’t healthy, and sometimes moms aren’t healthy. I’m glad you talked about that. Thanks. The next thing: 


What is something positive or uplifting you have found in your story, or have you even gotten to that point yet?


Paige: Julie, you touched on this a little bit, but The VBAC Link CBAC Support Group has been the highlight and the greatest source of healing for me, honestly, this time around. I have found women that I know needed to come into my life during this time, and a few of them are on the episode today. It’s so fun to be able to talk to them and see them on here. I just love you all, and I am so grateful for each of you.


Especially during COVID, when it’s very isolating, it’s a very difficult time to be going through postpartum. These women helped me feel like I had a tribe like I was seen and understood. This group-- it wasn’t me. It was a joint effort. Julie and Meagan, you don’t know that. But, I was messaging some other women personally, and we talked about how we felt forgotten. We talked about how we wanted to have a space. I still personally message some of these women just to check in on how they’re doing. It meant everything to me to have these women checking in on me during some really dark and lonely days right after my birth because they were going through it too. And I typically stay away from sharing too much on social media, but this CBAC group is such a safe place.


It was also really healing to know that you, Julie and Meagan, were both so supportive of creating this group because throughout my pregnancy, you two were some of my biggest mentors. When I got my CBAC, there was this feeling of, “I let them down,” which I know is not true, and obviously, you had no idea who I even was, but seeing the way that you are champions of not just VBAC, but empowered birth and CBAC included in that, just means everything.


Meagan: Aw, thank you.


Julie: Aw, well, we are so grateful for you. Honestly, when you brought up the group, I texted it to Meagan and our admin, Sarah, and I am like, “Why have we not done that yet?”


Meagan: Yeah.


Julie: it was an instant “yes” from everybody. We created it, I think, the exact same day. We are really excited to have a space for you because I don’t even understand what you are going through. I know I have seen it with my clients. I obviously hear stories and we see your conversations in the group, but Meagan can relate a little bit more because she had a second Cesarean after trying for VBAC. But, being able to just be a silent lurker, not to sound creepy or anything, in the group really helps me understand better where CBAC moms are coming from. It helps me understand a little bit better how to approach them. 


And so, I just want to thank everybody, not only on this call but in the group for being there and being in that space. It really is such a supportive space, so thanks.


Paige: Yeah.


Meagan: Yeah, when I didn’t get my VBAC, I was in the group that caused me a lot of issues emotionally at the time


Julie: A different group, not our group.


Meagan: Not our group, but a different group back in the day. I mean, it’s still around. But, I remember posting in there that I did not get my VBAC and I remember pretty much in a way being told, “I told you so. Why were you so stupid for trying in the first place?” And so, when you said, “We want a place for us. We feel like there’s no place for us,” I remember leaving every VBAC group. Every single one, and unsubscribing to everything VBAC because I couldn’t be in that space. I couldn’t hear it. I couldn’t be there. I was sick of the, “I told you so‘s.”


Like Julie said, when this was proposed, it was a no-brainer and a, “Where the heck have we been?” type of a thing. A moment of-- why didn’t we even think of this? So, so, so grateful for you. Last but not least, I know we have got lots of amazing people to share. 


Is there anything else that you would like to share or that you feel like people need to know?


Paige: I just want to reiterate how strong these women are, how resilient they are. Not by choice, but because they have to be. There is an extra level of courage and deeper strength that we have to tap into to not get the birth outcome that you want not only once, but often multiple times in some cases.


But for women who are prepping for their VBAC right now, I want to advise you to not be afraid, especially listening to this episode. We don’t want you to be afraid of a CBAC or a VBAC in general. I want to say, fight for it. Invest your heart in it. Go 100% all-in if that’s what your tuition is telling you to do. Follow that because the chances really are that you will get it. The odds are literally in your favor.


And if you don’t get it, if the doctors label you a “failed TOLAC”, we are here. Now that this group is made, we are here for you. We will hold the space for you. We will catch you and you are never a failure to us. You will be okay. You might not feel it and it might take some time, but I promise that you will be okay.


Julie: Me and Meagan are over here texting each other about how much we love you.


Paige: Oh my gosh. I love you guys. It’s mutual, very much so.


Julie: Before we go on to our next person, who is Kristian, I want to touch on something that I actually forgot to mention at the beginning.


Most of preparing for birth is getting educated, having the right provider, having the right support team, knowing all your options, etc., etc., etc. But there is a part of it that is just pure, freaking luck. I have seen it myself with my own clients. Sometimes you can do everything and you can work so hard, and you just get dealt a really rough hand and end up in a repeat Cesarean. 


But I have also seen clients who-- how do I say this? They don’t work as hard or care as much into putting the effort in, and they get lucky and they have their VBAC. Sometimes that is a really hard thing to process, even as a doula. Even as a doula, I sometimes have a really hard time processing, “Why did this birth go that way but that birth went this way?”


I know I have talked to Meagan about this several times and I know some of you are going to talk about this, but it’s really hard when you have worked so hard and get dealt a bad hand, and get that bad luck on your side. I think that what Paige touched on is exactly important, is that sometimes it’s just bad luck. That’s all it is. There is no one to blame and it’s nobody’s fault. It’s just bad luck.


Alright, next up, Kristian.




Meagan: Kristian!


Kristian: Hi, guys.


Julie: Hi, Kristian.


Meagan: Hello, hello.


Julie: Alright, Meagan, why don’t you start? We can alternate so that we don’t keep asking the same questions.


Meagan: Well, the questions are kind of the same.


Julie: But no, I mean you ask one and three this time. I’ll ask two and four. Change it up.


Meagan: Gotcha, perfect. Okay. 


What is something that you wish people would know about your CBAC and CBAC in general?


Kristian: Paige touched on it a little bit and you both have touched on it, but I think you can do everything “right”, I use that in quotes, and still end up with a CBAC. I never thought I would have one Cesarean birth, much less two. I literally planned my VBAC in the hospital with my oldest. Both of my babies were footling breech and both times I went into labor the night before my scheduled ECV.


In both scenarios, I thought I had done everything right to have the birth outcome that I had hoped for. But yeah, that luck was not on my side either time.


Julie: I agree. I think that's a really important thing to note. Okay. 


What is one of the biggest emotions you are working through now or had to work through after your birth? 


Sorry, I am just going to go off on a little, teeny tangent. I think that processing a birth is an ongoing process, but where are you at in your journey right now? What is the hardest thing you are working through or had to work through?


Kristian: Yeah. I think the biggest emotion I have had and I’m still processing is just the frustration of that I spent so much time, energy, money trying to get my son in the right position. Even before I knew he was breech, I thought I was hopefully going to prevent him from ever being breech like my daughter. Ultimately, even after doing all of those things, I ended up with the same results. 


And so, unlike my first birth, I don’t have the “what if‘s” of like, “What if I had tried X, Y, or Z?” But I have the frustration of, I tried all of those things. For me, they didn’t work. And so, that I am still working on. I think if I hear one more person tell me about Spinning Babies®, or chiropractic, or any number of things that I tried, I might just scream at them. Everyone is trying to be so helpful and thoughtful, but when you have tried all of those things, and you’ve done all the things that people do to get a VBAC, and it doesn’t end up being that, hearing them one more time is just too much. So, still working through that frustration piece.


Julie: It’s definitely understandable. That’s a really hard thing to go through because like you said, even though you know people are well-intentioned, it’s still like, “Yes. Yes, I did that.” 


I had that with my breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding never works for me, ever. All four times and despite all of my-- I tried all the things, literally. I think I can relate to your sentiment when if I hear anyone say, “Did you ever try fenugreek?” I would like, “Alright, let me just punch you in the face right now.” Anyways, I can relate to that.


Alright, Meagan, you are up.


Meagan: What is something positive or uplifting that you have found in your story, or nothing if you have not gotten to that point, and is there anything you’d like to share on that?


Kristian: Even though the physical aspects of my labor and birth were almost identical, like both times footling breech baby, both times going into labor the night before my scheduled ECV, how quickly my labors progressed, and then ultimately having a C-section. Even though the physical aspect of it was so similar each time, the fact that I had a different provider the second time, and that provider was truly amazing, it was such a healing experience that I never thought was possible with a CBAC. 


If you would have told me when I got pregnant with my son that I would have a CBAC and I’d feel okay about it because of my provider, I don’t think I would have believed you. I know I wouldn’t have believed you. 


In my first birth, I felt really unsupported, sort of like I was that unwanted statistic of a C-section because I was with midwives that deliver at a birth center. With my second provider, he was there the whole time. I think he was as disappointed as I was that I needed to have a C-section. I also knew that if it came to that and I had to have a C-section, it wasn’t for any other reason than that it was medically necessary and he gave me the best shot. He did an ECV while I was in labor. He let me labor as long as possible to see if the baby would flip and he would have delivered a breech baby if my son had been frank breech. 


So, all of those things I just felt really, really supported. Afterwards, he was there. He was there to explain what happened, and to talk it through with me, and spend the time, and tell me right away that I could try to have a VBAC if and when I have another baby. The physical aspect was the same, but the mental aspect was so different.


Julie: I think that’s important to understand. Meagan, do you want to add anything about your second Cesarean or do we want to just go on?


Meagan: For the sake of time and everybody else’s story, we’ll just go on.


Julie: Okay, cool. Alright, Kristian. 


Is there anything else you want to people to know about your birth specifically or cesarean birth after cesarean in general?


Kristian: Both things have been touched on already. The CBAC Link has been such an amazing community to join. Like Paige, I am not really a social media poster. I don’t really typically do that, but the group has been such an amazing place to process that. So I would say to listeners, if you have had a CBAC or if ultimately you end up in that situation, the community is here and it’s an amazing community to lift you up.


And then I think for people out there that are trying to support CBAC women, I would say just to listen and not add the added advice. I had a lactation consultant after my son was born that said, “Oh, I wish you lived in Canada because you would have had two vaginal births because they don’t do C-sections for breech babies.”


Julie: Whoa. Whoa.


Kristian: First, I don’t live in Canada and I don’t think that that’s necessarily true. So, I would just say, whether it is true or not, it is not helpful in the situation. Just let the CBAC mama have her story and not add to it.


Julie: Thank you. Thank you so much for that. I think that’s really important.




Julie: Okay, let’s see. Next up is Marie. Alright, Marie.


Marie: Hi there.


Julie: Welcome. Marie just moved away from us which makes me sad, but that’s okay. Marie, we still love you. 


What is something you wish people would know about your CBAC or just CBAC in general?


Marie: I would say more often than not that we would love to share if you asked. I just wanted to give a little context to share about my CBAC because my CBAC was very traumatic for me. Paige touched on this, but it was necessary because it saved my son and that was part of that trauma. 


I had labored naturally because my body doesn’t respond really well from epidurals. That’s what I found out with my first one. Anyway, I labor naturally for 18 hours and then I eventually had to have an epidural placed because right before my transition phase was exceptionally painful and I felt everything. My son was having heart decelerations in between contractions. Then, they were happening so frequently that we realized we just had to get him out as soon as possible.


Again, my body wasn’t responding to the epidural, so I felt a good deal of my surgery and I couldn’t help but be very vocal. Eventually, when they got him out he wasn’t crying, so I had that mentality going on as well. Our son was okay, but he was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy which is brain damage caused by lack of oxygen. He was driven to Primary’s and put on a cooling pad for four days to slow down his brain activity to try and let it heal optimally. 


The following week, he had tests for his heart and brain until finally, they let us know he had miraculous results and overall his brain damage was little to none. So, while my CBAC was traumatic, it saved my son. C-sections really are a blessing sometimes. I would want people to know that C-sections are really, really amazing. My first one felt unnecessary because it was failure to progress, so I was left feeling really empowered to get a vaginal birth the second time, but the second time I really needed that C-section.


Julie: Absolutely.


Meagan: She really has experienced the two opposite ends of like, “Oh, maybe not” and, “Okay, totally necessary.” 


What is one of the biggest emotions that you are working through or did work through?


Marie: I would say it’s a mixture of both because I feel like I have worked through it, but then every once in a while it pops up. I would say that’s bitterness. My bitterness comes from skin-to-skin. I had looked forward-- my cousin once told me the most magical feeling in the whole world is having that skin-to-skin right after you deliver your baby. I just could not wait to experience that. 


With my daughter, during my first C-section, I didn’t get a hold her for a couple of hours, and then with the second one, as I was preparing for this VBAC, I accepted the small possibility of having a repeat Cesarean because all I really wanted was to be awake and lucid, which I wasn’t with my first, and to get to hold him skin-to-skin immediately after his birth.


So, during his Cesarean, not only did I not get a gentle Cesarean, but I didn’t get to hear him, hold him, or behold his face for four days. When I first held him four days later, I was a ball of emotions trying so hard to just savor the moment, and holding his hand that was all bruised by all the needles, and looking at his face, and his oxygen mask.


I went to bed that night feeling like we had both been cheated out of that moment between mother and son. I was fighting resentment that I had, but I soon discovered that lots of NICU parents feel the complex, dual emotions of being both angry and grateful. As time has passed, I would say that the bitterness is mostly gone. It still pops up from time to time that I didn’t get to be with him the first two weeks of his life, but overall now, I’m left feeling more gratitude than anything.


Meagan: Yeah. And during all of that time, I just have to congratulate you on how amazingly strong you were because I can’t even imagine how hard that was. But you were a rock.


Marie: Well, you are one of my doulas, so you definitely knew that.


Meagan: I know you are a rock, yes. Okay Julie, do you have the other question?


Julie: Alright, Marie. 


What is something positive or uplifting you have found in your journey or have you not really gotten to that point yet?


Marie: It’s an astute question because the word “positive” is used. It’s difficult to find joyful, memorable moments when your goals or expectations are not met. So, what you’re left doing is finding gratitude, validation, and positivity in your CBAC story. But first and foremost, I am forever deeply grateful for the miracle of my son. Looking back, I am so grateful I had a provider who helped me go into labor on my own and that I fought for that too, because he did introduce induction options. I really fought for going into labor on my own because I didn’t with my first.


I feel validated that I did everything I could to get a natural, vaginal birth. There’s a lot of things I have found. There’s a lot of positive things I found in my story, you know. I found a family among NICU parents and the CBAC Facebook group. I learned that there are better experiences and there are sacred experiences. It all comes down to what your story is, what your experience is. It belongs to you and it is special to you. It’s nobody else’s. So I guess, there you go.


Julie: No, I love that. I think you answered that perfectly. Maybe I worded the whole question wrong for everybody. Everybody else, you are free to interpret question number three however you would like.


Marie: No, it was great. No, you hit it on the head.


Julie: I love it. I love everything you said.


Meagan: Is there anything that you would like to add?


Marie: I would want people to know, throughout The VBAC Link Podcast, we have been uplifted and inspired by so many women, including wonderful Meagan, who had successful vaginal births after multiple Cesareans and a very high success rate. It’s a great goal.


I don’t have any regrets trying for a VBAC. I would do it all over again. But anyways, I would want people to know that there are some CBAC women who might end up choosing or needing to do an elective Cesarean for any subsequent pregnancies. With that being said, I would want people to know, especially coming from a strong VBAC mentality, it’s a very scary and difficult decision to come to. It’s something that I am having to face right now because I do want more kids, but having the VBAC and the Cesarean were both scary. I am really having to juggle with what I’m going to do next. But if I end up wanting to do an elective Cesarean, or if I need to do one, then I would want my VBAC community, my VBAC sisters, to be supportive of me and excited for me and be excited that I am doing elective Cesarean. I would hope that I would have support from that.


Meagan: You deserve that, yeah. You deserve that support.


Julie: Yeah, I agree.


Marie: Thanks.


Julie: Well, thank you, Marie. Next up, we have Anne.




Meagan: Yes. Anne, we have: 


What is something you wish people would know about your CBAC?


Anne: You guys, first off, can I just say that I am really fangirling here because I have listened to The VBAC Link, oh my goodness, for as long as I can-- from the get-go, probably.


Julie: Thank you so much.


Anne: You guys have been there through my first VBAC. I did have a C-section, then a VBAC, and then I got pregnant with twins. That put a rudder in everything. I was going for a 2VBAC, which is difficult in itself with twins. So, I guess that’s one thing I would like to touch on which is different in my story is that with multiples. A vaginal birth is already hard enough to get supportive providers for, but with the twins, it was even harder. I really had to fight tooth and nail to even get the chance to try for my VBAC.


For me, it was about facing fear head-on whether you are trying for a VBAC or having that CBAC which I ended up with ultimately. I want people to know that it’s never an easy choice whether you decide to get it or whether it’s an emergency in the end. Having that C-section is not the easy way out like other people can see. That’s what I can say on that.


Julie: Absolutely. I agree with you 100% because sometimes you have to choose. Sometimes choosing a repeat Cesarean is just as difficult as going through labor and ending up with a CBAC. So, no. I agree 100%.


Anne: Yeah and definitely. I did the TOLAC and everything. We got to that 7 centimeters and we elected to have the CBAC. I cried my heart out. It’s never an easy choice.


Julie: Yeah, it never is. Never, along the way. For sure. Alright. 


What is one of the biggest emotions you are working through or had to work through post-birth?


Anne: I would say mine would be shame, I guess. I don’t know if anybody else feels this way, but I love telling my birth story because it has so many cool and different things that happened along the way. We were induced with a Foley bulb and the labor was just like-- oh my gosh, it was textbook. Like, beautiful labor. I didn’t even feel my contractions before I got the epidural. It was a good experience.


But then, when I get to the point where I have to tell people that we stalled out at 7 centimeters and we decided to get a C-section, you just see peoples’ faces turn a little bit. I am still processing that. Not feeling ashamed and being proud of how hard I fought, and how wonderful it was anyways.


Julie: Yeah, I think that’s really important. I am glad you brought that up. I think that’s a really hard thing to work through.


Meagan: Absolutely. Okay, next question. 


What is something positive or uplifting that you found in your story?


Anne: Well, it’s like I said, I did have a really good labor to begin with and I felt supported in all my choices. That was something really positive for me because, with my first, which ended up in a C-section, I didn’t feel that support at all. It was healing in that way. I am just happy overall that I got to have that experience and got to give my babies those labor hormones. That was my ultimate goal to have them receive that and go from there. I’m happy overall that I got my number one goal.


Julie: Yeah, that’s awesome. Alright. 


Is there anything else you want to add or that you wish people would know?


Anne: Even if a CBAC wasn’t your first choice-- heck, which obviously if we are going for a VBAC, it probably wasn’t, that having that supportive provider is just as important as having a supportive provider with your VBAC. I feel like my provider definitely made the whole difference for my recovery and how I feel about my whole experience because when push came to shove, and we decided to have the C-section, and I cried, she was there for me. Whatever I asked, she made sure that we would try and get whatever possible to make me feel comfortable.


I asked her to go through everything she was doing, to narrate as she was doing it. She said it was an odd request, but she did do it. So, just being heard from a provider and having that support is just-- it is so important. When you’re looking for a provider, not just thinking about how they will support you through a VBAC, but also trying to figure out if they are going to be there if plans don’t go as you planned.


Julie: I really love that thought. I think that’s really important. I honestly don’t think I ever thought about it in that perspective before. So, thank you for sharing that.




Julie: Okay, next up we have Joleen.


Joleen: Hi there.


Julie: Hi Joleen. How are you?


Joleen: Doing well.


Julie: So good. I am so good just to be surrounded and listening to you ladies. I am smiling the whole way through this. I just love it. Okay, question number one. 


What is something you wish people would know about your CBAC or just CBAC in general?


Joleen: So, a quick briefing. I had my CBAC in October 2020 following a spontaneous 33-hour labor. My water ruptured naturally at home at 38 weeks and 4 days. I never dilated past 1 centimeter and baby never descended past -2 station even with five hours of a Pitocin induction during that. A hospital birth, so I had no food and pretty much no sleep. So, I did have my CBAC called failure to progress, but it was my choice because of the exhaustion.


Overall, I think as a CBAC parent that we all had this goal set and probably had small goals in between and we had to reach those goals. We researched and we prepared and we advocated. We did “all of the things” and in the end, no matter what our outcome was, we all have our experiences and our stories. However we feel about these experiences, I just want people to know that our feelings are valid.


It’s okay if you need to mourn your birth experience. It’s okay to love your birth experience too. We just have to find a healthy output for those things.


Meagan: Absolutely. And it’s okay to take as much time as you need to mourn that birth experience. Question number two is: 


What is one of the biggest emotions that you are working through or have already worked through?


Joleen: I would say, being recently postpartum from my CBAC, when I have time to think back at my whole journey, it’s not really an emotion, it’s more of a gnawing, “What if?”


I originally wanted a home birth. I wanted the twinkle lights and the affirmations, the HypnoBirthing and the birth tub. I had a hospital birth. I constantly ask myself, “What if I stayed home longer? What if I hadn’t gotten the epidural? What if I had the doula that I wanted?” That’s really the one thing that weighs on me. I think a doula would have changed my outcome. “What if I had gone a few more hours before agreeing to have a surgery?” It gnaws and it eats at me.


I will share a quick story. Before they took me back to the OR, I turned to my boyfriend and I said, “Do you remember how I was after our first daughter?” Her name is Elowen. He said, “Yeah.” I said, “You need to prepare for me to be like that again.” He was like, “I know.” I said, “I don’t know how I’m going to be after this. I might be struggling. I just want you to know that. I want you to prepare for that if you have to help me through this.”


They took me back to the OR and as they were taking baby out, I had heard my midwife’s voice. I had no idea that she was the attending midwife during my surgery. She said, “You know, I told you that she was going to try to come on my birthday.” I just felt so calm in that moment. I said, “Heather, is that you?” She said, “Yeah, it’s me.” Immediately, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Heather, I didn’t get my VBAC.” And I cried. I was bawling. I could feel her emotion behind that blue veil. She said, “I know, hon. I am so sorry.” That was the first time I realized that I didn’t get my VBAC and it really sunk in.


Meagan: It’s crazy how that can happen and you are like, “Wow. Alright. And here we go. That just sunk in right there and I am processing this now.”


Julie: Yeah. Honestly, I am so invested in this story, I don’t even know what question we are on anymore.


Meagan: I think three. What is something positive or uplifting?


Julie: Yeah. 


Have you found something uplifting or positive in your journey? 


If not, that’s okay too.


Joleen: Yeah, so a positive thing that I took out of my whole experience and my whole journey was that I found this strength that I never knew that I had. I so often hear the phrase, “Use your voice even if it shakes.” I learned to advocate for myself and thankfully I had two wonderful providers, and OB and a Certified Nurse-Midwife who gave me no pushback. They supported me the entire way from the get-go.


Meagan: Okay.


Is there anything you would like anyone to know about CBAC?


Joleen: Yeah, so it’s like the other ladies have mentioned-- you can prepare all you want. It’s going to be the luck of the draw. That’s even what OB had told me at my two-week postpartum visit. I asked, “Was there anything physically wrong with me inside? Anything wrong with my pelvis?” He said, “You know, it was just the luck of the draw. I have no idea why things went the way they went.” 


You can eat all the dates you want. You can go to the pelvic floor therapist. You can go to the chiropractor every single week. You can bounce on your ball. You can walk. You can take the red raspberry leaf. You know, it’s not going to give you the outcome that you want. You’re not always going to get that outcome.


Meagan: It doesn’t always happen, yeah.


Joleen: Yeah, you have to accept it.


Meagan: Mhmm.


Joleen: It is a hard pill to swallow, too, if it doesn’t happen the way you want it to. But just know that you are not alone in your struggles.


Julie: Absolutely. I think that’s really important. You’re not alone in your struggles. I actually was taking notes while you were talking because I want to make some social media posts from some things you said. Actually, all of you guys, I have been taking notes. But, I think that’s really important to know.


Okay, well thank you so much, Joleen, for sharing your story with us. You’re right, I want to chat with everybody so long. But Meagan is like, “Come on. We have got to get back on track.” Okay, okay, okay.


Meagan: I want to make sure everyone gets their time.




Julie: Alright. Next is Brett.


Brett: Hey.


Julie: Hi Brett. I am so glad you’re with us. You are one of the people whose names I am familiar within the community. Now I’m familiar with all of your names, but Brett, I think I just remembered you from--


Brett: I think I was there from the beginning. I was one of the first people.


Julie: Yeah, I love it. Let’s get right into it. 


What is something you wish people would know about your CBAC or CBAC in general?


Brett: I think one of the hardest things for me to deal with after my CBAC was everyone saying, “Well, at least you have a healthy baby,” because yes, I have a healthy baby and that’s amazing. I am thrilled he’s okay and I don’t have to worry about him, but “at least you have a healthy baby” can be absolutely true, but it can also be very unhelpful to women who are going through birth trauma and the pain of losing the birth experience that we fought so hard for.


Meagan: Absolutely.


Julie: Yeah. I agree 100%.


Meagan: It discredits, I feel like.


Brett: Yeah, it takes away from all of the hard work that we went through. It takes the mom out of it and it makes it all about the baby. Birth isn’t just about the baby. Birth is also about the mom.


Julie: I agree. I feel the same way about the phrase, when everyone in my life tells me, “It will be okay. It will be okay.” I’m like, “It will be okay. I know that. It will be okay, but right now it’s not okay.”


Meagan: It doesn’t feel okay.


Julie: So, I need help now.


Brett: I love the concept of toxic positivity and how being positive is good, but you can be too positive. If you don’t give people the space to talk about their emotions and talk about their trauma, you are not helping. You are just silencing them and shutting them down. I feel like that happens a lot to women who go through traumatic births.


Julie: Yeah, totally. Alright, Meagan. Next question.


Meagan: What is one of the biggest emotions you are working through or have worked through?


Brett: I think for me it was probably the feeling of failure and the guilt that came along with it. I chose to switch to a home birth VBAC around 35 weeks mostly because of COVID, but I was honestly using that as an excuse. I really wanted to try for a home birth VBAC. I paid for the midwife in addition to the OB. I spent all the extra money on all the extra things. You all know what I am talking about.


Julie: Yeah.


Brett: I still failed to get my VBAC despite having perfect conditions. I was at home with my mom, and my husband, and a midwife who is supportive. I did everything and I still failed to do it. Knowing that in having two C-sections now, I am limiting the number of kids I can most likely have, it hurts. The guilt for all of the effort and money that I put into something that I “failed at”, it is real.


Julie: It is real. No, those are very real things. I agree with you guys 100%. Everything you have said has touched me in a whole bunch of different ways. So, thank you for sharing that with us. Okay, my turn. 


What is something positive or uplifting you have found in your story or have you not even gotten to that point yet?


Brett: Honestly, even though I didn’t get my VBAC, my CBAC birth was super healing for me. My first birth was just hell. 29 hours of induced labor with every medication side effect in the book. The magnesium made me feel like I had the flu. I puked over 40 times during labor. Then, our son came out not breathing and I didn’t get to meet him for five hours. I was a drugged mess and don’t remember pretty much most of it. S


With this birth, I went into labor on my own. I had a wonderful labor at home. My husband made burgers in the middle of labor and I devoured a whole burger in two minutes in the middle of labor. Even when we made the decision to transfer, that part was emotionally traumatic, our son came out screaming and I heard his voice right away. I got to hold him right away and we got skin-to-skin, which I didn’t get with Landon. I didn’t get to meet him for the first five hours and it just made a really big difference in healing after the first for me.


Julie: I think that’s really important. I just had a chuckle when you said cheeseburgers because I am a big fan of cheeseburgers. I always joke about that. When I tell my clients about eating and drinking during labor, I am like, “I like smoothies and stuff because if you’re going to throw up, they generally come up smoother than a cheeseburger does.” And so, I am always talking about cheeseburgers and birth.


Brett: I actually ate a cheeseburger. My husband was making them. My husband is a chef and so we said, “Well, you can make food for the midwife and stuff. It will distract you while I am in labor.” So, he made burgers. They asked if I wanted one and I was like, “You know what? Yes. I would love one.” I literally ate the whole thing before the midwife had even sat down with her plate of food. It was great.


Julie: Good for you.


Brett: It was awesome. And then because I ended up with a C-section, I didn’t get to eat and I had all the side effects to the medication again, so I didn’t get to eat for 24 hours after that cheeseburger. it was a good thing I had the cheeseburger.


Meagan: Yeah, that’s so awesome. Okay so, is there anything uplifting? Look, I am not even looking at the questions now. Yes, something positive or uplifting you have found in your story?


Julie: What else do you want people to know?


Meagan: I thought it was number three. Oh yeah, duh. She just said that.


Brett: That was number three.


Meagan: Okay. 


What else do you want people to know?


Julie: Cheeseburgers. I know we got distracted. Sorry.


Brett: That’s alright. I wish that people understood that the emotional healing from a Cesarean is just as important as the physical healing. A Cesarean incision heals over long before the emotional wounds stop hurting, but nobody really thinks about that part. We are kind of just left on our own to try and muddle through that. That’s hard.


Meagan: Yes. Yes. I think that is so powerful. I had a provider once tell a client, “Oh, as soon as she feels like she can stand up and walk she will be fine.” I was like, “Uh, OK.”


Julie: So nonchalant about it.


Brett: Yeah. My incision didn’t heal for three months this time. The first time, it was within a couple of weeks and this time I think it was September before my incision fully healed. Honestly, I think it’s because we went to the beach and I spent three days in the saltwater. I think that’s the only reason it actually finally healed over. I don’t know why it took so long, but even then, the emotional stuff was still there when the incision finally healed.


Meagan: Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you, thank you. I love all of your points.




Julie: Alright. Up next, last but not least, or maybe it is the best of all the game. Right? Alright, Grace. Meagan, do you want to ask the first question?


Meagan: Yes. Okay, Grace. 


What is something that you wish people would know about your CBAC or just CBAC in general?


Grace: Hi. So first, I just wanted to say thanks for having me on along with these other warrior women. Something I think I wish people knew was how much we all actually invest in fighting and trying for our VBAC and getting there emotionally, physically, and in some cases, financially. I think like someone had said earlier, I was planning my VBAC while I was still in the hospital after having my daughter. I knew I needed a new provider and a new hospital. I wanted a doula. Right from that day on, it was a journey for me for sure.


Julie: That’s amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. Okay, second question: 


What is one of the biggest emotions you are working through now or had to work through after your birth?


Grace: My CBAC was definitely emotionally healing in comparison to my first Cesarean. My first Cesarean was from an induced labor, a long labor, my doctor was very impatient. He made me push way before I was ready to. I ended up under general anesthesia, so I really have no positive feelings from my daughter’s birth, unfortunately. This time, I went into labor on my own. I got to labor at home before I went to the hospital. I was pushing. I got everything that I wanted other than literally just pushing a baby out myself. So, that was that.


But then I think about, “Well, what if?” All of the what if’s are what I am really struggling with most days is, “What if I got the epidural this time that I really was so strongly against based on my first experience with it? Maybe it would have let me labor a little bit longer,” or, “What if I had just pushed longer instead of making that decision myself to opt for the Cesarean?”


My son this time ended up being OP and I knew he was going to be pretty big, so both my midwife and my doula were like, “Well, if it was one or the other maybe we could work through it,” but I think the combination of the two was really stacked against me. At the end of it, they let me make the decision if I wanted to keep trying or to do the Cesarean. I remember my midwife asking me, “Deep down, dig deep. Do you feel it inside if you can push the baby out?” Honestly, I self-reflected and I really didn’t think I could, so that’s why we chose the Cesarean. But then again, what if? What if I would have just stuck with it? What if I would have just pushed a little longer? It kills me.


Meagan: Yeah. Yeah, I know. Those “what if‘s”, they can really get to us. It is hard not to ask the “what if‘s”. I feel like we start the “what if‘s” before we even go into labor. Even in the decision to VBAC or to CBAC, “What if I do this? What if I could deliver vaginally? What if I have something bad happen?” You know, there are just those “what if‘s”. It’s personally something so hard to get through.


Grace: Yeah. I think at the end of the day, I was like, “I really want this VBAC, but I really want my baby here healthy more.” It’s putting my wants aside for, “Yeah, I would love the VBAC, but I really would love my baby to be here now, healthily instead.”


Meagan: Mhmm. Yeah, definitely. Okay, question number two is: 


What is one of the biggest emotions you are working through or have worked through post-birth?


Grace: I think we just did that.


Meagan: See? This is what the thing is. I do the wrong question every time. Nope. It’s number three. It’s: 


What is something positive or uplifting you have found in your story?


I am just listening to the answer and not knowing what the next question is.


Julie: I know, we just get so lost in all of these amazing answers.


Meagan: I’m just relating, yes.


Grace: My whole journey this pregnancy, leading up to even getting pregnant and then my whole pregnancy, I just felt empowered. I was self-advocating. I researched a ton. With my first pregnancy, I was under the care of doctors and I just naïvely trusted them. They said to do this and I’m like, “Well, they are the experts. Okay.” This time, I really educated myself. I knew what my rights were and what I could get. I switched to a midwife. I hired a doula. I went to a different hospital. I did literally all of the things that I could do and that were there for me. Even though I ended up with a CBAC like I said, it was healing for me and I felt confident that I exhausted all my options. I left no stone unturned so to say in what I could have done. So, I was proud of myself for all of those things.


Meagan: You should be.


Grace: Thank you.


Julie: I think it’s great that you can look back on your birth like that and feel confident in your choices. That’s really important.


Grace: Yeah, for sure.


Julie: Alright, last question. Anything else you want people to know?


Grace: I think the biggest thing is that we can still love our babies unconditionally and yet still yearn for a certain birth story. I think some other women have said, people always say, “Well, at least the baby is healthy.” Yeah, of course. That should just not be not even said. That is number one for everybody. Mom and baby, yes. Number one. That should just be taken off the table. But, vaginal births have been part of women forever and ever. That is what we are “made to do”. I am saying these things with air quotes. So I just feel like, we can love our kids no matter what and we can still love to have a certain birth.


Meagan: Absolutely. Absolutely. You guys, so many incredible words and thoughts. I feel like, Julie, if you have been writing these down, we’ve got a lot of amazing Instagram posts.


Julie: Oh yes, yes. There were a lot. We want to wrap it up. Unfortunately, we have to go. I really wish we could just sit and talk with you ladies all day. I just love you guys so much. 


VBAC and CBAC birth plans 


I want to close it off because I want to take it back to something that Anne said. When you interview your provider for your VBAC, don’t just think about how they will support you through a VBAC. Consider how they will support you if things don’t go the way you want and if you end up with a repeat Cesarean. Maybe start asking those questions too, while you are talking about your birth plan and you’re preparing for your VBAC. 


Talk about a back-up Cesarean plan with them. What happens if something comes up and a Cesarean becomes necessary? Then how are you going to be supported? You might not like their answers, but you might feel just as supported as you are when they are talking about your VBAC preparation. And so, I just wanted to-- I just really loved that when you said that, Anne.


Like I said, I have lots of notes from all you others too. But, I just really want to emphasize that to close this off because sometimes births don’t go the way you planned. In fact, I would say, every birth doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes it’s in really little, teeny ways, but sometimes it’s in really big ways. Having support all along the way, no matter how it goes is very, very important. I encourage you, you listeners right now, to get educated about repeat Cesareans, to know the reasons why they may be necessary, and to have those conversations with your provider along the way.




Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

In a VBAC Link podcast first, we are joined by both a parent and her doula to share an inspiring VBAC story with us. Harmony, a VBAC mom, talks about her journey to better health, trusting her intuition to feel confident with an out-of-hospital birth setting, and how crucial it was to have a rock-solid support system. Kimberly, one of our VBAC Certified Doulas, chimes in to share her unique perspective on Harmony’s birth. 


Their sweet friendship shows us just how special the bond can become between you and your doula. Kimberly says to Harmony, “Stories like yours are exactly why I am passionate about VBAC. I was honored to get to be a part of your experience.” 


Additional links

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents

Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program

Find a VBAC Link Certified Doula

Kimberly’s Website: Dulce Birthing Services


Episode sponsor


This episode is sponsored by our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents. 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 we are ready to help you too. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today.


Sponsorship inquiries


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Full transcript

Note: All transcripts are edited to correct grammar and to eliminate false starts and filler words. 


Meagan: Happy Wednesday, everybody. You are listening to The VBAC Link podcast and as always, we are excited to be with you today. Today, we have something special for you. We have actually never done this before. Today is going to be so fun to hear the stories from both sides. We have both a parent and her doula with you today. They are going to share a VBAC story. 


We have Harmony and Kimberly. Harmony is the mom and Kimberly is the doula. She had a VBAC just six weeks ago, so we are so excited to hear her story. As always, we have a Review of the Week before we dive right in. I will turn the time over to Julie.


Review of the Week


Julie: I am really, really, really excited about the story too. Kimberly has been on our podcast a couple of times. She is on our Doulas Tell All episode, and she shared her VBAC after four C-sections story, so if you want, you can just go back to the search bar, search for Kimberly, and her story will come up as well.


I am really excited to have a doula-parent duo on as well. We are so grateful for them. Harmony and Kimberly are from Texas-- just outside of Austin, Texas it looks like.


I am going to read a Review of the Week. This review is from angelle.boyd on Apple Podcasts and the title of her review-- it’s really long but it’s cute. She says “Thank you, ladies! Best podcast to help prepare for a VBAC and an amazing birthing experience.”


She goes on to say, “First off, just had my successful unmedicated VBAC at the hospital in June all thanks to this podcast and you wonderful ladies. During my TOLAC, I continued to think of all the amazing stories I listened to on this podcast to get me through labor. Shouting out loud during labor, “I am a woman of strength and my body knows what it is doing,” was so empowering! I started listening to this podcast and could not stop. Each episode has something that can contribute and help women during their birth journey. I love how encouraging each episode is and that it goes through all types of scenarios that can happen during birth, regardless of trying for a VBAC. 


This can help better prepare any woman for all types of outcomes because let’s face it, giving birth is unpredictable! So thankful for listening to all the suggested tips to having a VBAC. I actually did every single one of them and happily had an amazing VBAC. Can’t thank you, ladies, enough, and hope this continues to help change the way our society sees birth! Yes, to women of strength! We got this!”


Boom. I love that review. That was exciting. Congratulations, angelle.boyd on your VBAC. We are so happy for you. Now, without further ado, let’s get to the story because we have a VBAC Trained Doula and a parent who had a VBAC. We are ready to rock and roll.


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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, which 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.


Harmony’s story


Meagan: Let’s get into the story. So, so excited. I am excited to see how this flows, and how you guys chime in, and your different perspectives. I am so excited. Let’s turn the time over to you fine ladies.


Kimberly: Hi, Harmony.


Harmony: Hey, Kim. We haven’t seen each other since the birth, but we are planning to this Friday actually. So, this is kind of cool. Yeah, the same goes for me that if you remember something that I don’t because it was a little blurry at points for me understandably, please, you can chime in whenever.


Well, I guess I will just start by saying that I got pregnant with my daughter in 2015. My husband and I had been married for a couple of years. Sometime during that first couple of years, I actually was diagnosed with PCOS by my doctor.


Meagan: Which is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.


Harmony: Yeah. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I remember coming home and telling my husband because I was pretty upset. I really wanted to have a baby. I just was worried about the fertility issues with that. We waited. I think it was in 2015 that we started trying to get pregnant. We had actually moved to Tulsa temporarily-- didn’t know it was temporarily. We are back in Texas now. 


We had been there for about a year, year and a half and started trying to get pregnant. I got pregnant right away. That in and of itself was huge for somebody with PCOS. I went through that pregnancy and had some blood pressure and blood sugar issues. The blood pressure issue was why I got induced. My doctor was wonderful. He basically just tried to get me to the very end before he did any type of intervention. I just wanted to say that up front, that I know my experience is a little bit different because my doctor-- his wife actually had a VBAC. He made a point to tell me that his C-section rate was really low. He was well-connected with the midwives in the area and so I knew I was in good hands with my pregnancy and that he wasn’t going to push me to be induced or have a C-section unless that was the option for us.


I reached the end of my pregnancy and my blood pressure just kept increasing. He said, “Well, I think what we should probably go ahead and do is induce you,” because he checked me. I had asked him to check me. I should probably say that as well. He didn’t do routine cervical checks. I asked him to check me that Friday and he said, “Okay.” I think I was dilated .5-1 centimeters, so not a ton.


He said, “Since your blood pressure is going up, I’d like to go ahead and induce you.” I shared with him that I was concerned about that because I didn’t want to have a C-section if I could help it. He said, “I totally understand that.” He said, “I just want to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you if you end up in a C-section. I am still going to make sure she is on your chest immediately.” He really tried to encourage me. He said, “I don’t see it going that way, but if it does, I want you to know I will make sure that all of that bonding happens.”


I went to the induction feeling like, “Well, this is the option.” I think they used Cervidil. Is that a common thing that is used usually? The night before, they inserted that.


Meagan: Yeah, Cervidil. It’s a pill.


Harmony: Okay, yeah. That’s what it was, and then I had some cramping. My husband and I had been watching Lost on TV or on Netflix. So, we started watching that. He stayed there with me, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I was feeling crampy and I couldn’t sleep very well. By the next day, I did start to have some contractions after they gave me a little bit of Pitocin. My daughter’s heart rate immediately dropped after having the Pitocin. My doctor was in a delivery and I remember the nurses rushing in, turning me over on my side, putting oxygen on me. It was very scary.


Unfortunately, he wasn’t there at the moment, so I didn’t have that reassuring comfort from him that, “You are going to be okay. We are going to figure this out,” but he got there as soon as he could and explained to me what was going on, that she wasn’t really responding very well to the Pitocin. We talked about trying some other interventions and he said, “I can insert a Foley bulb, and take you off of the Pitocin, and see if we can manually get you to dilate that way.” That’s what I decided to do.


He was actually right in the middle of checking my cervix when we talked about that. I always tell this because it makes me laugh, looking back. He’s really funny. He said, “Okay. Well, I am going to go have them get the Foley bulb. I am just not going to take my hand out at this point,” because he knew it was really painful for me every time he had to do that. The nurses went to go get the Foley bulb and when they left he said to me, “So, how’s it going?” trying to make it not so awkward because he was literally just sitting there with his hand in my vagina. 


But that’s part of what I loved about him, was that it wasn’t-- he really respected me and he was trying to make it as easy as he could for me. So, he inserted the Foley bulb and I think I dilated. I still was having contractions even after they dropped it down for me.


This is where it gets a little blurry for me because I don’t remember if I still had a little bit of Pitocin. Her heart rate dropped two more times after that and it was scary for me. That was probably, aside from-- the C-section wasn’t really that scary for me. It was hearing her heart rate slow down that really terrified me. So, after that third time that her heart rate dropped, he came in and sat down on the bed beside me and he said, “Look. I know neither one of us wanted it to go this way, but this is what is happening at this point.” He said, “I don’t really want to rush you in an emergency where we can’t control how she is born and have her there on your chest. So I think at this point, the best thing to do is go ahead and do the C-section.” I said to him, “Yes.” At that point, I was like, “Yes, please. I can’t hear her heart rate drop one more time.”


They wheeled me in there and they made sure I was all set up. They were very respectful. I know in the stories that I have heard since my C-section, I realize how fortunate and blessed I was to have the doctor that I had, and have the nurses, and have the anesthesiologist that I had because there are some pretty horrible C-section stories. They got me all set up and pretty soon, he had her out and put her on my chest.


It wasn’t what I saw for my birth, but it was our story and I was able to hold her. I was so exhausted at that point from all the medication and just the birth itself. With the hormones, I was shaking and everything like that. I was afraid I was going to drop her. I remember saying to the neonatal nurse, “I want to hold her, but I am afraid I’m going to drop her.” She was like, “You’re not going to drop her. We are right here. You can hold her.” Again, they were really supportive.


So, of course, a C-section recovery isn’t fun. I had to basically recover from a major surgery while learning to become a mom for the first time. She ended up having to go to the NICU the next day because she had tachypnea, which is rapid breathing directly caused from the C-section because she didn’t go through my birth canal. That wasn’t fun either because I had to be separated from my baby there in the hospital. 


We eventually got home and moved on with life. I knew that-- I remember my doctor coming into the hospital room, I think it was the next day or day after, checking on me, and I immediately knew when I was there in the hospital that I was going to have a VBAC the next time I had a baby. I was already planning it. I said to him, “So, when can I get pregnant again?” I could tell in his face he was just like, “I can’t believe you are asking me that right now after having just had a C-section.” But I was already looking forward to the VBAC because I knew that we had wanted to have more kids.


I thought we would get pregnant sooner, but time passed quickly it feels like. My daughter was-- I think she had just turned four and we decided, “Okay, let’s go ahead and start trying for another baby.” We did. I think I got pregnant pretty much in the same amount of time that was with my daughter. I have been very blessed to get pregnant really fast, like I said, especially even with PCOS.


Oh sorry-- I should back up and say that the time in between that pregnancy, I really looked at why I had ended up in that C-section. Sometimes, there is not an explanation and sometimes it just happens. For me, I knew that it was my blood pressure that had caused me to have to be induced. I knew that for my own body, when I carry more weight, my blood pressure-- it doesn’t take long before my body goes, “Whoa, whoa. Danger,” and my blood pressure shoots up.


My body, I thought, just couldn’t handle that additional weight from the pregnancy. I decided to lose 50 pounds. That was actually my goal. I had already lost the 25 that I gained with my daughter.


Meagan: Nice work. That’s awesome.


Harmony: Thanks. Yeah, that’s the most weight I have ever lost.  I have a hard time losing it if it is just because I want to look better. It was more like-- it was the biggest motivator I ever had, was having a vaginal birth. I really felt like in my heart that if I could get to a better way that it would just be less pressure on my body. I walked and I actually just tried to let it come off easily. I didn’t do any crash dieting or anything like that. I think it took about a year. I had gone and seen the birth center that I was interested in.


So, I was planning all this stuff all along even though I wasn’t even pregnant yet. I wanted it all lined up so that when I got pregnant I would know what my plan was. During that time, I lost that weight and I would walk. While I was walking, I was listening to The VBAC Link podcast, actually, every single day that I would walk. I did that to normalize in my mind the VBAC experience. I wanted to feel like women are having this all the time. In the medical world, it’s talked about as being super risky and scary, but as I looked at the data and the information, I knew that wasn’t true. I tried to normalize all of this in my head and make it not so scary for myself.


It turned out that quite a few women in my life-- as I talked about that I was going to try for this VBAC-- had VBACs themselves. It was funny how-- I am a believer and a Christian. It was odd to me how in my life I found that around me there were about four or five women that were sprinkled around me that had VBACs and even more made me feel like, “Yes. This is okay for me. This is safe and women are doing it. It just encouraged me even more.”


I visited a birth center after I got pregnant here in Texas-- Central Texas Birth Center in Georgetown. It’s about 35 minutes from me. I went in with my mom originally and when I walked out, I said, “I feel like I’m going to give birth here.” I just felt really strongly. My mom said, “I feel the same way.” Neither one of us have had experience birthing out of the hospital. That feeling was just so strong that I knew in my gut that that was probably where I was going to have my baby. 


I went back with my husband and he said, “Yeah.” He said, “I feel like if it were me and I was having this baby, I would do it in a hospital. But I feel like this is right for you and that you are going to be supported here.” He just wanted to know that if anything happened that they had a transfer protocol in place. And they did, but I definitely in my mind was like, “I am not even going to talk about that.” I didn’t want to scare myself or speak something over me that wasn’t going to happen. 


But he was very supportive. My whole family has been very supportive. I know that Kim-- I don’t know if you want to talk about that Kim, but she said to me that the support that I had around me was really maybe a little bit unusual because it was my mother-in-law, my mom, and my husband. They were very 100% in with me which was great.


Kimberly: From a doula perspective, it was really fantastic to walk into a situation that all of your immediate family was super supportive of your plan because so often we play the go-between of “Mom is too nervous,” or “Dad is too nervous,” and they don’t want the birth plan to go-- They have different ideas of what they think is safe or normal and to see that your whole family was on board with this plan or birthing outside of the hospital with the provider that you had chosen. It made your job easier. It made my job easier and, I think, ultimately led to the best support you could possibly get in your birth. Not just in the pregnancy, but there was no wavering. There was no fear, no wavering of emotion in the moment when you needed everybody to be steadfast for you.


Harmony: Yeah, definitely. I know I jumped ahead a little bit with that, but I feel like that was just really important to say that it helped me make my decision to see my husband so calm and confident with it. It was new for me to even consider birthing out of the hospital. But I just felt like-- I had looked at providers through the ICAN Facebook page. I did some investigating and I just did not feel in my heart for me that I was going to be supported the way that I wanted to be for a VBAC. 


I didn’t want to be under a time limit at my gestation where I was going to have to be induced. That was my own personal feeling, a decision that I wanted to be in the right place so that I could let my body do what I was going to do. I knew that there would be nothing more worrisome for me than feeling like I was on a deadline. I knew that that was going to make my blood pressure shoot up. I was like, “I’ve got to be able to relax here.”


I chose to go with that birth center. They were wonderful-- my midwife and all of the people there. At one of my appointments, I think I was about 10 weeks, I started taking my blood sugar. I started eating more lower carbs to try and head off any blood sugar issues. I also took some supplements to help with my blood pressure. I really went through that pregnancy with no complications this time. I had a lot more energy. I know it was probably taking the pressure off of my body. 


I know that there are tons of women who have totally normal and totally healthy pregnancies with extra weight. I just want to be sure and say that too, that if you are plus size, that does not mean that you can’t have a VBAC. I did this for myself because of my own body. I knew that I needed to get some pressure off of my body. It was really important to me to say that because I don’t want anybody to hear that you are limited because you are more plus size or anything like that.


Meagan: Totally. Thank you for confirming that.


Harmony: Yeah. I didn’t want that to be misunderstood that I feel like you have to lose weight to have a VBAC because you do not, but I felt like my body did. I’m glad that I listened to my own body and did that because it turned out to be right for me. I didn’t have any complications. 


I did also-- one of the things that I tried to do to set myself up for success was hire a doula, which is Kim, who you just heard earlier. We met on a Facebook video chat because COVID had just started happening. We had to set up a time and meet together. When I spoke to her, I knew that she had a lot of experience that I wanted. I can’t remember where I had read it, but I knew that you had had your own VBACs. That was important to me because I knew that you understood the mindset of feeling like it would be really easy for a woman that has had a C-section to feel like her body is broken. That, a lot of times gets pushed even further when a provider makes you feel that way.


So, I knew that she believed in them because she had them and I also knew that she had some experience in Spinning Babies®. I know we talked about that in our first video call. Spinning Babies®, and I asked her about the rebozo because I had read stories about how that has been helpful. You have a lot of other certifications. I can’t remember what they are in. Oh, I’m sorry. I should also say that I found her through Instagram. She came upon one of the stories for the Instagram on The VBAC Link and it said that she was a VBAC Link Certified Doula.


Julie: Yeah, when she first got her certification. We used to post those to our stories. We are not very good at that anymore. We should probably start doing that again, it sounds like.


Harmony: No, it was right after she had been certified, I think. I think you were the only one in Texas at the time. Is that right?


Kimberly: I was.


Harmony: Okay. It just so happened that she was only about 45 minutes away from me. That also worked out great. After I talked to her, I knew that she was somebody I wanted to go with. I wanted to also talk about how you have the added element of being pregnant during COVID during this time, and how I obviously didn’t expect that curveball. It scared me in the beginning because it was so new. We didn’t know anything about it.


Kimberly: I think when we-- after you interviewed me and hired me, there was the whole COVID thing and we had to meet over video. But shifting that direction because of COVID and doing the in-home visits was really important. I think it helped us bond better. When I showed up to your house the first time-- well, first of all, you had a different experience in that your Cesarean-- you didn’t necessarily have all of the negative associations that a lot of the women that I work with have with their Cesarean, that they feel like it was unnecessary. 


So, it was great to get to walk into a situation where you were like, “That was my birth. It’s okay. I’m okay with that, but this is how my new birth is going to be. This is how this one is going to go.” It was great to get to not have to spend all of our time necessarily working through birth trauma, but really getting to focus on that prep for, “Okay, you had a hospital birth. Now, let’s prep you for an out-of-hospital birth and the differences, and really focus on comfort measures.” I think us being able to do it at your home-- I felt like it was a lot more of a comfortable environment. It really felt like just sitting down and chatting with a friend when we talked.


Harmony: Yeah, me too.


Kimberly: I couldn’t believe how fast time flew when we were there at your house just chatting, but I loved being able to have that moment and get your husband involved in a space where I knew he would feel more comfortable doing things and being active versus meeting somewhere in public. I think that really worked to our benefit.


Harmony: Yeah, I do too. I 100 percent feel the same way. I feel like I made a friend through this. It wasn’t just somebody that I hired to help me through my birth.


Kimberly: Absolutely.


Harmony: I definitely feel that way, too. I agree with all of that. I guess I will just start talking about the birth now. I wanted to spend some time on the other things because I felt like it was important to show that for me, this birth story started way back. It was all the footwork that I had to do ahead of time to make myself feel more comfortable going into the pregnancy that I wasn’t, hopefully, going to have the same complications. And then if I did, I would just feel like, “Okay. I did everything I could and that’s okay. I’m going to birth my baby the same way I birthed my other one and that’s okay.”


My due date was September 30th and I had an odd sensation that happened for me. I looked back, and on about 9/18, my in-laws were coming into town. They were coming in about two weeks ahead of time to try to be there for the birth. As I pulled up, I got out of the car. Around the same time I was pulling up and I got out to meet them, I felt this weird drop in my body. It was uncomfortable.


He had been really low. He was on my left side, head-down for most of the pregnancy. But this was painful, where I couldn’t straighten up my body. I was talking to my in-laws and I was like, “Sorry guys, I cannot walk right now. I can’t move.” I don’t know if that was him moving down even further. I’m not really sure. I think I texted both Kim and my midwife, Sally, at that point and said, “Okay, I don’t know what just happened, but I haven’t had this yet.” 


So about 9/22, which was four days later or so, I started having consistent contractions as I was laying on the couch watching TV with my husband. I looked at the clock and they were coming about 10 minutes apart, but I didn’t say anything to my husband because I knew he was already kind of nervous about, “Okay, we need to make sure we are at the birth center because I don’t want to have the baby here at the house.” He was really afraid that he was going to have to end up delivering the baby.


Kimberly: I think that was his biggest fear the whole time.


Harmony: Yeah. Yeah, because we had some friends that told us that she had gone into labor. She was actually seeing my same midwife. She ended up delivering at home accidentally and her husband had to deliver the baby. He texted my husband the next day and my husband was like, “Whoa. that is not happening.” He was very freaked out by that.


He just wanted to make sure that we were really paying attention to the contractions. I was looking at the clock and they were coming about 10 minutes apart and I said, “Okay, these are coming 10 minutes apart.” I don’t know if that meant anything because I hadn’t gone into labor with my daughter naturally, so I just didn’t know. I texted-- I don’t know if I texted you or not, Kim. Do you remember?


Kimberly: I think you texted me the second day.


Harmony: Okay, I think maybe you are right. I know that I texted my midwife and she said, “Okay. That’s great. Go ahead and try to go to sleep and rest through them.” I mostly was able to sleep through them through the night. They would kind of wake me, but I was able to go back to sleep. 


The next morning, I texted my midwife and she agreed that maybe this was just warming up to my labor, and I should focus on them and try not to track them. I know I didn’t do a very good job of that because I was very like, “Oh, these are happening. I need to start tracking these.” If I had to do it over again, I would have listened to my midwife. I would have tried to relax and not paid so much attention to them because they actually went on-- let’s see, until about 9/27.


I had prodromal labor for several days following this. Yeah, 9/24. It looks like that evening they were starting up again. They were still regular, so I tried to sleep through them, but they were getting stronger with each night. I started to get a dull ache in my lower abdomen, and my pelvis, and my back, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t sleep because they kept waking me up. They were strong enough where I found myself waking up moaning through them, but they were still very irregular.


I texted my midwife and she told me to still try to sleep through them. She was just telling me that sleep is so important. “You really need to try to rest,” but it was like I could not do it because they just kept waking me. I was feeling nauseous the next day because I hadn’t had any sleep. I was exhausted. When I would try to take naps and lay down, the contractions would start up again and they would be strong. When I would try to sleep, it was like I’d lay down and that was their cue to, “Okay, you’re going to rest now? Okay, now we are going to do what we need to do to try to get you into labor.”


On 9/25, I still had lots of aches, lots of pain in my pelvis. I went on a light walk because I was like, “I think I’m going to try to go on a little walk.” I live on my parents’ land out in the country. So, I walked down the street down their dirt road and back. When I got back, I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. When I went to the bathroom, I noticed that I had a tiny brown-- I don’t know what you would even call it-- like, a piece of matter. I was like, “Well, that’s interesting.” 


I texted Kim and my midwife at that point to let them know that I hadn’t seen that before, so I think some things may be starting to happen. After that, I tried to nap for a few more hours and the contractions just kept coming when I would try to go to sleep. The next day, I texted my midwife and said, “I’ve had contractions all night, but they are not coming closer together. They are getting harder as I sleep.”


The next day, I texted my midwife because I had had painful contractions through the night and they kept me up again. It was just prodromal labor, which I guess everybody talks about, and then, I didn’t know that was what I was experiencing. But I would have to get on my hands and knees, I would wake up from the contraction, get on my hands and knees to get comfortable. I would walk around the room. I’d have to lean over the bed. I just couldn’t lay down and contract. 


I think it was the following day on 9/27 that I was in the bathtub trying to get some relief and I decided to call Kim. I felt bad because I could tell I woke you up. I think it was early that morning and I just--


Kimberly: It was early, but I live that life. I expect it.


Harmony: I know. I was like, “She’s probably okay.” I was always like, “I hate inconveniencing people,” so I was like, “No. I don’t want to call her, but man these contractions.” I don’t know if this is labor that I am in. If it is time to do something, or you just don’t know.


Julie: I think it’s so funny when people say that. They have said that to me too like, “Oh, I am so sorry I had to call you at 3 o’clock in the morning because I was having a baby,” and I’m like, “No. You are literally paying me to wake me up at 3 o’clock in the morning.”


Kimberly: This is what you hired me for.


Meagan: I tell people if I had a problem with waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning, I clearly chose the wrong career.


Julie: I wouldn’t be a doula.


Harmony: Yeah, exactly. But when you were in it, you were just like, “Is it just me making this a big deal? Do I really need to call somebody?” I was afraid that I was like, “Okay, I just need to hang in here,” because I was still just trying to rest, but I couldn’t do it and they were getting worse. Kim told me to do some inversions. Maybe you want to talk about that part, that you felt like he was just trying to get in a good position and that’s why I was having them.


Kimberly: Yeah, sometimes prodromal labor can be caused just by something minor and baby’s position. Not always the case, but it was worth a shot. The inversion helps dislodge baby just enough so that they can make enough of a rotation with their head or their body and correct themselves. Sometimes that can cause things to pick up once they start again and turn into active labor.


Meagan: I was just going to say, and it’s actually stopped labor to allow moms to totally go to sleep because it fixed the baby’s position and helped the baby, right?


Kimberly: Absolutely.


Harmony: Yeah. From my own perspective, I think that I just could not get comfortable laying down because he was probably in an awkward position. When I would have those contractions, getting up on my hands and knees or walking around the room, that seemed to be the only thing that would give him a little bit of room. 


So, I went into the living room and I did some inversions. I called my mom and she came down to support me. At that point, I was in tears because I was just so tired and they were hurting. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I did a couple of those inversions. I cried through them. But pretty soon, they got more bearable. I didn’t feel the same, like he was large, which was what I kind of felt like. My mom actually did do some belly sifting with the rebozo that Kim had left for me. There were lots of tears. I was tired, but I was feeling like, “Okay, something is starting to happen, I hope. I hope it doesn’t go on like this forever.” I tried to take a nap that day, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t rest. I didn’t go into this with a lot of rest as you’re probably gathering.


That night, it was September 27th. I talked to both Kim and my midwife, Sally. Sally really encouraged me, “You really need to rest if you can at all. Why don’t you go ahead and try to take some Benadryl or have a glass of wine and just see if you can go to sleep?” I had some Benadryl on hand so I did take a couple of pills. I got in the recliner because-- I talked to Kim about that too, that I could not lay down and feel comfortable. 


I know it’s not preferred to recline, but when we talked, we decided if that was the only way that I could get rest, then that was probably what I should do. My husband and my mom-- my mom came down to be with me from her house. My husband, mom, and I watched TV. They turned the TV on and I decided not to track my contractions because my midwife told me to do that to focus on trying to get rest. My husband said, “Okay. I am going to track them because I want you to rest, but I want to make sure that if we get close enough, that we have enough time to contact Kim to come because she told me to call her when they were about 5 to 6 minutes apart.” I think that was because of his positioning. Right, Kim? That he was head down, and he was low and on my left side.


Kimberly: I know we talked about intensity too, and monitoring for changes from what I had been. If something’s shifted from what you have been experiencing, then that was probably things ramping up. Then, I would want to be heading your way.


Harmony: Yeah, definitely. I had given my husband my midwife‘s number and Kim’s number just so that he would have it in case I wasn’t able to contact them. I had dozed off and on in the chair, but I kept having the contractions. I didn’t know how far apart they were. They would wake me up. I would look over at my husband and he would time them as I was having them. At one point, he paused the TV show and said, “Okay. These are about 5 to 6 minutes apart. It’s been that way for a little while, so I think we need to call Kim.” 


In that moment, I think because I had had so much prodromal labor leading up to that I just was like, “No.” Again, I didn’t want to bother her because I felt like they were going to slow down again. I was like, “I don’t want to have her come all the way over here. She lives about 45 minutes away. I don’t want to have her drive here and them just stop again.”


We argued about that for a little while and he’s like, “I’m calling her.” So, he called her. I don’t know if you want to say anything about the phone call or anything, Kim, because I can’t remember the conversation very much at all.


Kimberly: Yeah, he made it very clear on the phone. He was like, “So, Harmony didn’t want me to call. But I think things are picking up. I would like for you to head this way.” I was like, “Okay. I’m coming.”


Harmony: After he got off the phone, I was like, “No, they are going to slow down.” My mom was like, “Harmony, she made a decision to come. You need to just be okay with that.” I was like, “Okay.” They tried to make it less like I was twisting your arm into coming. This is when I realized that as far as labor goes, time doesn’t exist. When you got there, it felt like it had been five minutes, but you are about 45 minutes away. I remember when you walked in feeling like, “Oh my gosh, she is already here. That was really fast.”


You came over and started immediately putting counterpressure on my hips because I was laying on the couch. It was just so good to know that you were there because I didn’t know what to expect. I had never had a natural birth before and I didn’t know when I needed to go. I would say, that’s so helpful to have a doula there really that knows because they have experienced it, and then I could relax, and have my contractions, and trust you to go, “Okay. I think we probably need to start thinking about heading over.”


From what I remember, there was a lot of rushing around by my mother-in-law, and my mom, and my husband making sure that we had everything in the bags that we needed. My dad came down to watch my four-year-old daughter, who was asleep when we left at about 1:00 a.m., and started to head over. My husband called my midwife and said, “Okay, we are headed over.” I know that we talked about not leaving too early because I wanted to make sure that I was really in active labor before I got in the car.


Kimberly: I think you were in good, active labor. I saw that you were in a good pattern and your husband being nervous-- I didn’t want that to affect you. I know that his worry was having a baby at home, so I didn’t want that nervousness to affect your labor. I felt like for everyone, the situation was better if we just went ahead and went, even though we still had a little bit of time that we could have waited. I think it allowed him the peace of mind so that he could relax and just focus on helping you.


Harmony: Yeah, exactly. I do remember you saying that now-- that you were like, “I think it would be a good idea. Let’s go ahead and go.”


We got in the car. You followed us in your car. I remember thinking that the contractions were going to stop when I got in the car because we had talked about how that could happen between the house and the birth center. But I didn’t. They kept coming. I remember feeling so encouraged. It was at that point-- and I know that sounds really weird, that it was that far into my labor. I was like, “I am in labor.” It was like it took that much for me to go, “Okay.”


Meagan: It clicked.


Harmony: I know. It sounds really weird because I had been laboring for a long time, but I think prodromal labor really makes you doubt when you are actually in labor.


Meagan: Totally.


Julie: Oh, it totally does. It totally does.


Harmony: Somehow, I remember saying to you, “Kim, I feel like I’m going to disappoint people”. Do you remember me saying that?


Kimberly: I do.


Harmony: I remember saying, “I feel like it’s going to slow down again. Here is everybody doing this for me and it’s going to stop.” But when I got in the car and they kept coming, I was like, “Oh my gosh. I’m going to have a baby.”


Kimberly: You were worried about that false alarm and I’m like, “Nope, this is what we do. Sometimes it happens and it’s okay, but I don’t think that’s happening.”


Harmony: Yeah, exactly. I remember asking you, “Are these going to stop?” when I was laying on the couch. You said, “I don’t think so. I think this is it.”


We got to the birth center and I remember having another really big contraction when I got out of the car. My midwife met us there and she did what you would consider a regular check-in. She checked my blood pressure, and took my temperature, and all those things, and then left me to labor which I think is great. That’s exactly what I wanted. And I had Kim there the whole time. We walked around the hallway. I labored on the couch and on the bed.


Something I wanted to say was how helpful the counterpressure was for me and that you did that even when I was sitting on the couch. She would push on my knees to create counterpressure. That would help me through those.


Kimberly: Your husband did a great job of helping with that too.


Harmony: Yeah, he did. He did great. He was very supportive the whole time, trying to be there for me. 


So, let’s see. On the next morning-- it actually ended up being into the morning. I labored all night, and then my midwife came in. I was laying down on the bed trying to sleep through some of the contractions. I don’t remember everything word for word, but I remember her saying, “I think we should go ahead and check you,” because I don’t think I looked necessarily like-- and this is where you can tell me, Kim-- I don’t know that I looked like I was as far into labor as I was.


Kimberly: You were handling your contractions very well. Your face and your demeanor was very calm the way you were breathing through them, so I’m not sure if maybe she expected that you weren’t going to be as far along as you were, but you were laboring beautifully.


Harmony: Yeah, and later I said to her, “Did you think it was too soon?” She said, “I thought that it was a little soon, but it wasn’t. It was totally right.” She’s wonderful too, very supportive. Like I said, the whole birth center-- and I had a wonderful midwife that was very hands-off as far as my labor. 


So when she checked me, I remember thinking, “What if I am not as far as I think I am?” But when she checked me, she said, “Well, you’re definitely in labor. You are at a 7.” I couldn’t believe it.


I couldn’t believe that I was at a 7 and that I had been laboring active labor that long, and been able to do it without saying, “I can’t do this,” or, “This is too painful,” because my experience with my daughter with the Pitocin was-- those contractions were horrible. They were right on top of each other. There was just no break at all. I think I dilated to maybe a 5 or 6 with her, maybe a 4 or a 5. I’m not positive. But after she checked me and said that I was a 7, I laid there for a little while. My husband was like, “You need to rest. Let’s try to rest for a little bit.” She said, “Yeah. Let’s close the blinds.”


It had become light outside and so my midwife said, “Let’s close the blinds and have you try to rest a little bit, then in a little bit, get you up and walking around.” I think we did that and then I got into the tub at one point, which I really wanted to do. I knew that would be very comforting to me. I stayed in there for a little while.


Again, I had Kim too. I remember getting in the tub being worried that my contractions were going to slow down, but you were tracking them. You were like, “Nope. They’re still coming. They’re still coming at that regular interval for you.” At that point, my midwife did check me and I was still at 7, but she could feel his head and my waters were intact. She said, “Do you want me to break your waters?” I was not sure what I wanted to do at that point, because I really wanted to not have any type of intervention at all. But Kim and I talked about it, and I talked about it with my husband, and we decided, I was at a seven. It probably was okay to go ahead and do that.


We did that and it didn’t take long before the contractions started to feel a little bit more like what I would describe just as-- I don’t know if I can do this. That started to come into my mind. I was like, “This is getting scary for me,” because I felt like-- when you know that you are about to make a decision by breaking your water that you can’t take back, and you can’t escape those contractions at that point, so you just have to go, “Well, this is going to be hard, but I have to see it through.” 


I do remember getting out of the tub at one point, because I just felt like, “I can’t be in this tub by myself.” I started to feel like, “I feel really alone in this tub. I can’t be in the tub by myself. I have to get out.” So, everybody helped me out of the tub. At that point, I remember feeling a sharp, searing pain around my hips and abdomen. That scared me because I just didn’t know if that was my incision or not. Although the percentage of that happening-- isn’t it less than 1%? It still scared me.


My midwife came in at that point. I remember saying, “I am scared.” She said, “Well, what are you scared of?” I said, “I’m afraid that this is my incision.” I’m afraid that the pain that I’m feeling is my incision. She said, “Okay. Do you think that’s what is happening?” I remember before I could even think about it any further, I had another huge contraction that brought me to my knees. I remember my mom holding me against her and trying to support me. It was really hard for my husband and my mom to see me in so much pain. Although they were really supportive, I know that took a lot out of them as well. So, I remember that. I remember my mom holding me.


That obviously was not what was happening. As far as the incision rupturing, that wasn’t what was happening, but that fear is still there, even though it’s a small percentage. You have to choose to believe that it is okay and that the percentage of that happening is very small, and so that’s probably not going to be what happens.


At that point, I got on the bed because my midwife said, “Would you like to start trying to push?” I’m like, “Yes,” because what I had been told up to that point by a lot of women was, “It feels so much better to push because it’s like you were able to do something with that pain.” I was like, “Yes. Yes. I want to get on the bed and do that.” 


I got up on the bed and that’s when it got really crazy for me. This is where, Kim, I could probably use some of your perspective because being in transition-- people can tell you how intense it is, but until you are in it, I don’t think you can really understand what that feels like. I remember saying, “I can’t do this.” I said, “I can’t.”


Kimberly: I think a lot of your pain too, just from my observation-- it does feel good for a lot of women to push, but if I remember correctly, you had a bit of a cervical lip that they were trying to get you to push past and that can definitely be pretty painful to try to be pushing past a cervical lip. So, I think that’s why yours maybe felt a little different, and of course, is going to give a different sensation that you weren’t expecting.


Harmony: Yeah. I know that my hips were in constant pain, which I guess was just them spreading. My midwife would say, “That’s your baby. Your baby is trying to come down,” because I was like, “Oh, my hips. I can’t do this. I need somebody to push on my hips.” I felt like I was out of control. It felt like there was a lot of noise in my head, which I realized was in my head later as I watched some video back. It was pretty quiet and calm, but in my head, it was like everybody was talking. I was screaming. It was like my perspective was off. 


When you are in transition, it’s like you are in your own world. That was what was scary for me was when I started going, “I need you guys to take me to the hospital. I can’t do this.” I remember people saying, “No. No, you’ve got this. You can do this. Harmony, he is almost here. His head is right here. You can push him out.” That is so, so important to have a team of people that believe in you.


Kimberly: I think your husband reminding you, “Nope. This is what you told me you wanted. You told me if you said you wanted to go to the hospital that you didn’t really mean it.” I think him reminding you of that was really pivotal.


Harmony: Yeah, I did. I said to him, “I need you to understand how important this is to me. Right now, I know I can do it, but when I am in labor, I probably won’t feel like I can do it. So, I need you to say to me, ‘No. You can do this and I am going to help you get through this.’” He said exactly that. He said, “I remember saying to you that you may be mad at me right now, but I am just doing what you told me to do, and so, I need you to reach inside you and push him out.”


Kimberly: When you first said that you wanted to go to the hospital because you didn’t feel like you could do it anymore, from the other side, we could see his head when you were pushing so we knew how close you were.


Harmony: That’s the thing was like, I couldn’t see anything, obviously. One of the midwives actually offered to put a mirror. She said, “Look. Sometimes this helps.” I was like, “No, no. I don’t want to see it,” because I think there was part of me that felt like if I saw the baby’s head coming out-- I was already so overstimulated with what was happening, I was afraid it was going to send me over the edge on what was happening.


She was like, “Okay, okay. No problem. You don’t have to look.” I felt bad because I felt like-- maybe I didn’t yell, but I talked very strongly during the labor to some people. I said to her, “No, I don’t want to see it.” She was like, “Okay, no problem. You don’t have to look.” Then, at one point, people were saying, “Push, Harmony. You need to push.” I was like, “Stop telling me to push. I am pushing.” I wouldn’t normally talk to people that way. I said that to Kim. I felt so bad because I was talking to people that I barely knew that way and being very forceful, but you just don’t have it in you to think about your wording or your tone of voice.


At one point, they told me to reach down and feel his head because it was coming out. I reached down, but it did not feel like a head. I know that sounds really weird, but it didn’t feel very round, and so I guess that’s because he was trying to come through. The midwife assistant and I laughed about it because she said, “Yeah, you reached down and you went, ‘what is that?’” They were like, “It’s his head. It’s his head. He is trying to come out.” I think there was part of me that felt like he was never going to come out. I kept trying to push, but I was like, “Man. Why is this taking so long?”


At one point, my mom had to leave the room because I was in so much pain. She just said, “I had to leave for a second.” She actually got sick in the bathroom because it was so intense. Again, I don’t know what it was like from your perspective, Kim, but that may have just been--


Kimberly: Your mom was definitely struggling, but she was fantastic. I had one hip laying on the bed across the bed shoving on one hip and she was in there shoving on the other. You could tell she was ready for it to be over for you and you could tell how strong she was feeling your emotions.


Harmony: Yeah. I mean, totally supportive, but just trying to hang in there, I think. It’s just hard to see your child in pain. I even felt my husband at one point while I was pushing, I felt him start to shake. I looked up and he was crying. I thought that was because, “Oh, the baby’s head. He’s crying because the baby’s head is out.” But he told me later that he was crying-- he was like, “No. You were just in so much pain. It was really hard for me to see that.”


What’s cool about that too is, I feel like it bonded us even more in our marriage for him to see what I was doing to try to get the baby here. At one point I reached down again. That’s when I started to feel what is described as the ring of fire. I felt sharp, sharp, sharp, sharp pain in my vagina. I reached down and then I felt, “Oh, that is his head for sure. His head is almost out.” 

That was what gave me the strength that I needed to feel that we were almost there. I pushed and I pushed. 


Really quickly, I remember somebody saying, “Okay. Get on your hands and knees.” I did that as best I could. I felt a bunch of people help put me over on my hands and knees on the bed. And then, I was told to push some more and then all of a sudden, I felt the pressure go away and I knew. I remember in the video I said, “Is he here? He came out?” and he had. He had come out. I turned around and saw him. 


I’m sorry. I am getting emotional. That moment was probably one of the best moments of my life to see him there and know that I had done it, that I had my VBAC, and that first of all, I was out of that pain that felt like I was just in this pain spiral that I couldn’t get out of. But that now, I had actually done it and he was here. That was one of the best moments of my life-- just being able to hold him and know that I had this accomplishment and that he was here, and safe. My husband was very emotional about it. Everybody’s crying in the video.


My mother-in-law and my mother were both there and got to witness that. My mom has said to me later, “I never had really seen a baby coming out of a vagina.” That was interesting to be able to know that was a new experience for her too. It was just a really wonderful moment. Afterwards, my daughter got to come in and get in the bed with us and see him. All of that, I have a video. 


It was really wonderful to feel like I could have let fear dictate that moment. I could have tried to play it safe, which, for me-- and I am just speaking for me. For me, it would have been playing it safe to choose to birth someplace else because I was scared. But I chose to birth where I birthed because I wanted to have an untouched VBAC that could just allow my body to do it. I didn’t know how hard it was going to be if I’m being honest with you. I did not know that it was going to be as hard as it was. I still can’t believe that I did it, but I did. 


I’m really glad that I didn’t just let fear take that away from me, that I got to have that wonderful moment when I pushed him out, and I got to have my daughter there, and see my husband see his baby for the first time on his chest in an environment that wasn’t medical, which-- for me, it was just a different experience than my previous birth, which is okay. Like I said, that was our story. The C-section with my daughter was still wonderful to have her on my chest and everything like that, but that was just a different experience that I got to have with my son.


So, yeah. I mean, I guess the number one thing that I would say is how important it is to build a team of people that believe in you and believe in VBAC 100%. That was part of why I was able to go through this pregnancy completely and not be rushed into a deadline going into labor or feeling like it needed to be controlled. It just was. It was what it was. 


It was like I hadn’t even had a C-section before in how I was treated if that makes sense. It was just like, “Yeah. We are going to let you go through this pregnancy.” At the birth center, they believed that I could do it and my midwife like I said, was wonderful. I never felt along the way from anybody that they thought that it was going to go south. They all just believed that I could do it. 


And when it came time for me to go into transition, and pushing, and I didn’t think I could do it anymore, it was really important that I had the people in that room. Everybody in that room was like, “No. You can do this.” It’s so important because you can’t necessarily see the finish line when you are in a lot of pain and it’s really intense. All you can think about is that and it’s our natural inclination to just be like, “How can I make this stop? I need an epidural,” but that wasn’t an option for me because I was at a birth center and that’s part of why I chose to birth in the birth center because I wanted to try to avoid interventions.


So, that’s pretty much my story. I don’t know if Kim wants to say anything else. I was interested to hear what her perspective was when they told me to get on my hands and knees because you could see things, probably, that I couldn’t see in that moment.


Kimberly: Yeah, so I was down by your hip pushing and I could see. You had birthed his head and he had a bit of shoulder dystocia. That’s when Sally started to move and I told you to flip over to your hands and knees because I knew that’s what it was going to take to get baby’s shoulder dislodged. And you were great. A lot of moms are like, “What? There is a baby’s head between my legs. How am I supposed to move?” 


You did fantastic and that’s exactly what it took. It was quick. Stories like yours are exactly why I am passionate about VBAC. I was honored to get to be a part of your experience and I have a new friend, just simply.


Harmony: Thank you. Yeah, me too. I couldn’t have done it without you. I couldn’t have done it without anybody there because I needed that extra push when it came-- no pun intended. But I did need that extra push. I did need that from everybody else to tell me they could see the perspective and go, “No. You’ve got this. His head is almost out. I know that you feel like you can’t, but you can do this.” 


I’m just so thankful. I’m so thankful for everybody in the room and so thankful for Kim. I’m so thankful for the birth center and I’m so thankful for my midwife and the assistant. There was another midwife there. And my mom, and my mother-in-law, and my husband, and how they were in it with me. They didn’t say, “Okay, yeah. We probably need to go to the hospital at this point,” because I was in pain. My husband said, “I wanted to do that, but when we would take your blood pressure, it was fine. When we would take his heart rate, he was fine. And so, I was like, this is what she told me to do and so I am just going to keep pushing her through it.”


That’s pretty much the story. I’m sorry if it was too long.


Julie: No, it was great.


Meagan: No, you are awesome. I loved that you two were able to bounce off. Where you couldn’t remember, she-- it was really cool.


Julie: Super fun.


Harmony: Yeah. I do remember trying to move and feeling like, “Oh, it feels like there’s something really big stuck down there.” And there was.


Julie: There was.


Meagan: Oh, a baby’s head. No big deal.


Harmony: I feel like I can’t move, but I did move. I got over on my hands and knees somehow. Yeah, I didn’t know that his shoulder was stuck. But, they got him out.


Julie: That’s awesome.


Harmony: He was 8 pounds, 2 ounces, so a full pound heavier than my daughter.


Meagan: Isn’t it crazy how that works?


Harmony: I know. My mom and I were talking about it and she was like, “Yeah, I don’t know.” With me, she had me vaginally. My brothers too, but with me, it was during the time when-- now, I think they can give you an epidural basically right before you push, but the way it used to be was like-- she was too far along. So when she got to the hospital, they were like, “Sorry. It’s too late.” 


She just looked at my dad and said, “I can’t do this.” You know, because she had-- she was like, “I can’t do this. I can’t.” But she had had me vaginally and naturally, and she said, “I don’t remember feeling that pain in my hips, but that’s because you were my last baby.” So, I don’t know if for me it was because it was literally my first vaginal birth and he was pretty big. I think his head was 14.75 inches, and his shoulders were big, and his abdomen was almost as big around as his head, but I don’t know if that’s why I felt so much pain centralized in my hips.


Julie: Definitely could be.


Meagan: Could have been.


Julie: bigger babies, a little more pressure down there.


Harmony: Yeah, a little bit more.


Julie: Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It was definitely a lot of fun to have both of you on. 


If you are interested in becoming a VBAC Doula yourself, then go ahead and check out our courses at thevbaclink.com/shop and if you are interested, we also have a parent’s course that will make you and your doula the perfect powerhouse team-- confident and educated going into the birth space in order for you to have the very best, empowering birth experience that you possibly can.


Meagan: And if you are looking for a doula, go to our website, thevbaclink.com/findadoula, and find your state or your country because we have doulas in lots of other countries as well. Check it out and see if there is a doula near you. I promise you, these guys are amazing. These doulas are absolutely phenomenal.




Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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