With her first baby, Brittany knew she needed a home birth. She took no shortcuts to ensure that her dream would come true. From hiring the most supportive midwife and doula to routine chiropractic care to practicing HypnoBirthing to blowing up the birth tub and hanging birth affirmations, the level of preparation (especially as a first-time mom!) was truly impressive.
Yet in a matter of hours, Brittany’s years of planning turned from a powerful home birth into a heartbreaking Cesarean and traumatic hospital experience. Brittany shares valuable lessons learned, how she found healing, and her beautifully triumphant HBAC story which was redemptive in every way.
Today’s topics include:
- How to handle insensitive comments
- Breech presentation
- Relinquishing control
- Postpartum grief and healing
- Gratitude and perspective
- Mother-baby bonding in a Cesarean versus a vaginal birth
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.
Interested in sponsoring a The VBAC Link podcast? Find out more information here at advertisecast.com/TheVBACLink or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: All transcripts are edited to eliminate false starts and filler words.
Meagan: Hello, hello. It is The VBAC Link. You are going to be hearing an amazing story today from our friend Brittany. We are so excited to hear from her. She had a C-section and then a VBAC. She is from Florida. She is actually a hairstylist and she does it all day. We were just talking about her bio, how cute it is. She says, “Hairstyle by day and mama by night.” We totally get that because that’s how we roll. We are podcasters by day.
Julie: Podcaster by day. Podcaster by night. Doula by day. Doula by night.
Meagan: Right? Oh my gosh. It’s a crazy life that we all live. But man, we are so excited to hear her story. We do have a Review of the Week. So before we get into it, I want to turn the time over to Julie to read that review, and then we will get right into Brittany’s story.
Review of the Week
Julie: I am super excited. Brittany, I feel like we could be friends, just from the short time that we have been talking to you before we were recording. Meagan, we have a lot of people we need to go visit, I think, from our podcast. The VBAC Link world tour.
Alright, let’s see. Today we have a review from JessieMarie3 from Apple Podcasts and the title is “So Inspirational.” She says, “I don’t even remember how I came across this podcast, but I am so glad I did. The birth of my daughter ended in an unplanned C-section and was very traumatic for me. I’m currently working with a therapist because I think about it every single day and have so many regrets. I asked my doctor about a VBAC almost immediately because I just knew something was missing, if that makes any sense. This podcast makes me feel so empowered and prepared for my VBAC, and I’m not even pregnant again yet. I tear up a little bit with each birth story and hope I can share my VBAC story on your podcast someday, whenever it happens!”
Oh, that makes me so happy. I love it when people find us before they are even pregnant again. After their C-section, they just know they want a VBAC. I love that so much. It gives me major warm and fuzzies. If you haven’t had a chance, we would absolutely love for you to leave a review of the podcast. We show up on Google. You can leave a review on Apple Podcasts and you can always on Facebook. We haven’t gotten Facebook reviews in a little while. It’s been a little while.
Meagan: It has been.
Julie: We’ve seen lots from Apple Podcasts and a few from Google.
If you are hanging out with us on Facebook, go ahead and give us a five-star rating over there. It would make our day.
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.
Meagan: Okay, Ms. Brittany. We are so, so, so excited to hear your story. Like Julie said in the beginning, just chatting with you, I feel like we are friends. Instant friends. I can’t wait to get to dive in and be even more intimate with your amazing story.
Brittany: Well truly, you are my friends. I’m so thankful, thankful, thankful for you guys. There are not enough words to say what having like-minded people can do for you when you are going into something that a lot of people don’t agree with.
With a VBAC specifically, that was huge for me. Huge. I held onto our time together. I would walk-- I have a pier. I live in a little beach town is what we call it. It’s beautiful, but there is this pier that is actually on the river. It’s one long strip of concrete. I would just walk back and forth, on that strip of concrete. I’d drop my son off at school, and just walk and listen to other people, and you guys. I mean, you guys just being the heart of it and encouraging, but also other mamas-- many souls out there that had done this journey already.
It was so encouraging. It was where I needed to be. It was like a refuel for me because, like I said, I am a hairstylist. I talk to women all day long. We talk in my salon. We friends. They would say to me, “I don’t know. It just makes me nervous.” I wasn’t out to argue, but it was nice to have numbers, facts, and things that I could say, “Well actually,” or, “It’s not quite what you think it is. Did you know?”
Meagan: You were educating. You were educating out there. Yes.
Brittany: Yes, totally. But I also understand that when you love people, you are concerned for their well-being. People don’t know what they don’t know.
I think with my first pregnancy, I learned that everyone has their own opinion and that’s okay, but you don’t have to value it all. You do need to find people you align with and let that feed you. This show was so great because it fed me and was able to keep me focused, encouraged, and on track.
I would go into my appointments and I’d be like, “Alright Angie. I’ve got questions.” I would list them out and they would be from the episodes. She would be like, “I love this.” I went into my labor and delivery like, I trust it all because I know any questions that I have. I wouldn’t have known to even ask them had I not have listened. So, thank you.
Julie: I love that. Do you know what? I am going to make a word image to post on our social media account with something that you said a few sentences back. You said something to the effect of, everyone has their own views on pregnancy and birth. Everybody loves you. They want the best for you, but you have to find people that align with your views and beliefs about birth to support you and keep close. I just really love that effect. That really spoke to my heart.
Because it’s true. People just want the best for you and they don’t know what they don’t know. They want your health, and your safety, and your happiness, but sometimes they just aren’t up to date on the facts. You need to find people that will either get on the same page as you and support you, or that already are on the same page as you that you can hold closer as you prepare for your birth. So, I’m glad you said that. Thank you so much for that.
Brittany: It’s all good. Okay. Well, my first child is Nash. He is three years old, just turned three. That pregnancy was an easy pregnancy. There really wasn’t anything big that happened. It was everything “normal”, which is a wide array of things. But it was nothing, no big deal.
I wanted to have a home birth for probably six years before I ever got pregnant. My husband and I watched that Ricki Lake documentary, “The Business of Being Born.”
Meagan: I was going to say “The Business of Being Born.”
Brittany: Yep. From that moment on, I was like, “Yup. Oh, that’s for me. That’s totally for me.” I already have my own fear of hospitals and doctors. Honestly, there is a lot of anxiety associated with a hospital to me. So I knew if birth is mental, that’s probably not going to be good for me.
I started seeing my midwife years before I ever got pregnant for my annuals and things. I had developed such a great relationship with her. My pregnancy with Nash was just the next step of our relationship, which was awesome. She became a sister to me, truly. I describe my relationship with my midwives because there were actually two of them, and my doula, who was amazing. Doulas are super underrated. She was amazing. They all became sisters to me.
Through that, I went into it like, “Alright. I am going to do this home birth.” I never even once considered a C-section. I didn’t even go to the hospital. I knew that if I had to be emergency transferred where I would go, but I had no idea what the hospital even looked like in the labor and delivery unit.
Fast forward to being 40.4 weeks pregnant. I went in for my regular appointment and she’s like, “How are you feeling?” I am like, “Good. Last night I had a big cramp. I thought for sure I was starting labor, but nothing ever happened.” She’s like, “Okay. Anything since?” I’m like, “No.” She’s like, “Okay. Let’s check you.”
She went in. She did the doppler and then she’s like, “Do you want me to do a membrane sweep since you’re overdue?” I’m like, “Yeah. That would be good. I’m ready.”
She goes in and she’s like, “Let’s pull out the ultrasound machine and just check on how he’s doing.” I had never even seen this little ultrasound machine. I didn’t even know she had it. She pulled it. At this point still, I’m clueless as to what could possibly be happening. I just thought that this was what’s next. She is a very calm, cool, collected person.
She’s like, “Alright.” She’s got the wand up at the top of my belly. She’s like, “There’s his head.” I’m like, “Hi baby boy.” Like, totally not even paying attention. She’s like, “And here are his feet.” She’s showing me down. I’m like, still. Finally, she looks at me and she’s like, “You have a breech baby. We need to get you in for an ultrasound at the radiology place in town today to see what kind of breech he is.” To be totally honest with you guys, my memory of what she said in the rest of that appointment is like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.” I fogged out.
It was just like, “Wait, what? What does that mean?” She did sit me down and she called for her office person to make the appointment. At that time, she sat me down and she went over all of the different breech positions and talked about how some of them are safe to do vaginally, and she does feel comfortable doing breech home deliveries. She does it all the time, actually. But, we have to know what kind of breech it is in order to decide whether it’s safe or not. That’s why I had to go get this ultrasound.
I was alone at that appointment. My husband had gone to the other previous months of appointments just because it was getting more serious. This one he had to work, of course, and so at that point it was like I was in a fog. I drove to get the ultrasound. While I was driving there, I’m crying, but also just like, “I don’t even know what to think right now.”
When I got to the ultrasound place, my midwife-- I love her so much. She called me. She’s like, “I just want to sit with you on the phone while you wait. I just want to talk with you. How are you feeling? What’s going on? What’s Vinny doing? Is he going to be able to--” She was a friend. She took her midwife hat off for a minute and was that sister to me. Oh, I could cry. Because it’s the little things in my journey of home birth and midwifery. It means the most. Man.
Julie: That’s amazing. That’s really, really cool.
Brittany: Yeah. So, I went in. I had only had two ultrasounds prior to that. This one was the longest one and the tech just seem to be irritated, I would say. Not with me, but just like, “Ugh.” She couldn’t get the picture.
Finally, she was just like, “I am going to submit this to our radiologist, or our ultrasound whatever-that-doctor-is. I’m going to submit it to him. They will get it back to your midwife probably before the day is over.” Actually when I left her office, originally she was like, “You go there and I am going to call Jen,” who is my chiropractor that I saw throughout my pregnancy, who specialized in pregnancy chiro care, which is so cool. She’s like, “I am going to call her and set up an appointment with her for immediately after your ultrasound, so you can get the Webster technique going in hopes that maybe we can flip this baby.”
I forgot to add this. The night before that appointment, we determined he had flipped because he was head down a week prior. So that feeling of pain, of labor-- that’s when it happened. She’s like, “I don’t know. It’s so late in the game, but he did just flip last night. So maybe he could flip again, you know?” And so, I went straight to the chiro after that.
I called my doula, cried to her, and she was just an ear. Just an empathetic, understanding ear. Got the chiro care, which was great. It’s crazy. I was marching up and down, my knees to chest basically for 90 seconds. She’s like, “This is the hardest part.” Then I’d turn and she would invert me. I’d lay on my back and she put a cold pack on the top of my tummy, and then a warm pack at the bottom. I’d lay there for-- I don’t even know how long. However much time, and then I’d get up and she’d adjust me. Then I’d do the whole thing over again, knees to shoulders.
She’s like, “You’re going to go home. You’re going to do this in the tub tonight. You’re going to take a warm bath, keep the top of your belly out, and put a cold thing of peas on top of your belly so that hopefully, it will make him want to turn and flip. You’re going to lay inverted. You’re going to come back tomorrow. We’re going to do this again until he flips, basically.” The whole thing was like, “We can do this,” because I had been seeing her the whole pregnancy. I had my team.
I got home that night. Angie called me on the way home. She said, “Call me when you get home with Vinny. I want to talk to both of you.” We got home. We sat around the kitchen table and she’s like, “Here’s the thing. He is frank breech. Your fluid level is a 2 and a healthy level is a 15. The low side would be 10. He has basically no amniotic fluid in there anymore. It’s no longer safe to do a home birth. If you want to do a natural birth, you can try a teaching hospital, which is here and here, which is-- both of them are an hour and a half away.”
She’s like, “But that’s still not guaranteeing that they’re even going to let you have a natural birth. They will induce you right away. They’re going to watch you like a hawk, basically. If anything goes slightly awry, they’re going to intervene. It’s up to you. Intervening means a C-section. It’s totally up to you. I will be with you whatever you choose to do. But this has to happen tomorrow. You can have a good night’s sleep tonight. Pack your bags. But we have to decide. We have to do this tomorrow.”
I literally felt my world fell apart. It was just like, “What?” Still, I don’t think that at that point I had processed that I was losing my home birth. With my birth affirmations already hung and my birth tub up. I’m packing my hospital bags crying, calling family, who say things like, “Oh, hon. I’m so sorry. But at least you know the baby’s going to be safe.” And the “at least”-- I get it. I understand you want to offer some form of hope, or help, or condolence to someone struggling, but it stung me every time because it was like, “There is no at least. I am losing something. I am losing something huge. None of you understand because none of you would want this and that’s okay, but it’s something that I have dreamt of for years. And I’m losing it in a matter of what felt like a few seconds of time.”
Julie: Well, and the hard thing is with that, when people say, “At least,” it completely discredits everything that you’re feeling right now. It completely discredits it.
Meagan: It weakens, yeah.
Julie: It pushes it aside and it takes the focus off of what you are feeling and going through in the moment.
Brittany: Yeah. Totally. Totally.
Okay, so, I am packed. My husband was-- honestly, God used all of this because it was an area of bonding for us to go through something like this together. He was able to be there for me in a way that I hadn’t really needed him before. I mean, I truly was falling apart. Actually, my midwife was like, “Listen. I think you should have a glass of wine tonight so you sleep well and you can just chill out.” I’m like, “Alright.” So, I did. I had, maybe, a large glass of wine because I was a mess. That night, when I woke up to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t feel him moving. I add the wine in there because I’m pretty sure he was just very sleepy. We jumped up and ran to the hospital, of course.
We called Angie and she was like, “Alright. Let’s go to the hospital. I’ll meet you there.” Now, we chose the hospital 45 minutes away because they have a NICU. So we were driving there, and that whole drive was one of just-- it’s surreal. We were both so in shock of like, “Oh my gosh. We are rushing to the hospital right now out of nowhere and there is nobody on the road.” We are trying to-- well, I say we. My husband.
I was in prayer and just like, “God please keep my baby safe,” and practicing my deep breaths. He was driving as safely as possible but also pedal to the metal. We’ve got to get there. It was this weird feeling of like-- this is a drive I never wanted to make. Period. But I can’t get there fast enough. Oh, man. So we got there and immediately as we pulled into the parking lot, my son started kicking and moving around. I’m like, “Ugh. You little turkey. This is how it’s going to be.” And it is.
We got up to the L&D and they got him strapped on. Everything was fine. Totally fine, which we could take a sigh of relief, but my midwife got there maybe five minutes later. That’s when they’re asking for paperwork and she really dealt with them. She showed up like our advocate essentially, is what it felt like.
She called before we came and they were ready for us. They start speaking hospital talk, and honestly-- because like I said, I’m still in the state of shock from the night before, from waking up and him not moving. It’s just like, “What is going on? This is not the world that I dreamed of at all.” And not just that, but I don’t even know what to think because I was fully unprepared for this. I didn’t even let my mind go to the idea of what a C-section would look like.
I begged every single nurse and every single doctor. I say every single because there were at least probably six nurses in and out of my room and three different doctors. Well, the anesthesiologist and his tech or-- I don’t think he’s a tech. I think he’s another doctor. And then the surgeon. I begged them plus the whole staff to please, please, please let my midwife come back in the room with me because I was so stressed out. Not even stressed, it was like a panic attack on the horizon. I was just a bottle of nerves.
All of them said, “It’s up to the doctor. It’s up to the doctor. I don’t care. It’s up to the doctor.” The final person to come in was, of course, the doctor. And he-- I don’t know this guy from Adam. He’s literally just the guy that was on call for the day. So he’s talking to me like I am Jane Doe. There is no connection whatsoever.
“This is what’s going to happen. Do you have any questions?” I was trying to be the nicest patient, but also please honor this wish of mine. “Please,” I said. “She was the person that was supposed to be there. I have had my whole pregnancy with her and she is my comfort zone. Would you please let her just come? She was a labor and delivery nurse for years.” I said that. This what she did before she was a midwife. He said, “It’s up to you, but you can only have one person back there.” I’m like, “Okay, well obviously it’s my husband. You know?”
Julie: Whoa. Come on. I mean, come on. We see that all the time though. Especially right now with coronavirus. There have been so many things. I’m sorry you didn’t get to have that support. That’s not okay.
Brittany: My husband was also very stressed out. This was not his plan either. Like I said, it all bonds you. We went through it together, but man. It would have been helpful to have her there and to just be able to squeeze her hand and know that she’s got my back. The whole time I felt like, “I can do this. Angie’s got my back.” And then I felt like I was (inaudible).
So I got into the OR and that’s when the panic attack came. First, it was-- I’m practicing my HypnoBirthing, which, I’m so glad I did that during my pregnancy because even though I didn’t use it for labor, it is what got me to the place where I could talk myself off the ledge because I felt like they were going to have to— I had to tell myself, “Brittany, keep it together because they are going to put you under because you are going to lose it.”
I had that anxiety. It rose up within me. I’m scared and sad and all of the feelings at one time. This is when I am alone in the room and they are doing the spinal because my husband can’t be there, obviously.
The nurses were-- it was so sterile. I say they were insensitive because they weren’t trying to be. They were trying to help, but I’ve got tears running down my face. I’m deep breathing and she’s just like, “Oh, honey. Don’t stress out. This is the easy way out. You don’t even have to do the labor and delivery part.”
Meagan: Oh, heavens.
Julie: Oh no, no, no, no, no. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh!
Brittany: I know. I know. I’m trying to not cry at this point, even though internally I am melting down. I’m nodding my head at her so she will stop and then moments later, the tears start coming. It was after the spinal, so I didn’t really have to necessarily hold it together any longer. Two of them look at each other, acknowledge each other, and they’re like, “Sweetie, we know you’re scared. But this is the quickest way to meet your baby.” I go, “I wanted to have a home birth.” And they’re like, “Oh.”
Julie: I feel like “but” is the same as “at least.” Like, “I know you were scared, but you’re going to have a healthy baby. But at least you’re going to--”
Brittany: Yeah. It’s terrible. It wasn’t better after that because when I said, “Oh, I’m supposed to have a home birth,” they said, “Oh, well, you’re braver than I am.” I’m like, “What the heck? You guys just should stop talking. You are not helping this situation at all. Where is my husband?”
I was so over the whole OR. Thankfully, I had the best anesthesiologist assistant who sat at my head and was the voice of reason and coaching in my ear. He was like, “If you feel any kind of nausea, you tell me as soon as you feel it. I don’t want you to feel that. I don’t want you to throw up. So just tell me.” I’d be like, “I’m feeling it.” And he’s like, “Okay, push it.” He would talk to his anesthesiologist. I never felt like I had to insert my way from that point forward. I felt heard because at least he was there.
I said to him when I heard the baby, “Is the baby okay?” He’s like, “He’s safe. He’s good.” I didn’t even know to ask for this, but I guess this is part of a gentle Cesarean. Maybe the midwife told me to say this, but I don’t remember because like I said, I never considered a C-section. They picked him up and over the curtain and laid him directly on my chest when he was born. I had that moment of meeting my baby that way. Whew. That’s the coolest thing ever. Even losing my labor and delivery, that moment when you become a mom, nothing tops that. From that point, it was like the OR room stilled. It disappeared. It was me, my husband, and my son.
Thankfully, I was able to get out of that headspace and enjoy that moment, but the rest of the stay at the hospital was like a thorn in my side. They are in your room, every three hours, checking you, checking the baby, waking you up, telling me I can’t sleep with my baby. I’m like, “Um, excuse me? This is my child and he is sleeping on my chest. It’s not even a deep sleep. You’re in here every three hours. You know?” They would walk in and they would be like, “Ma’am, if you are sleeping then he needs to be in the cradle.” I’m like, “I wasn’t. We were nursing.”
I was just like, “Come on. Get off of me. I don’t even want to be here.” That’s all I’m thinking the whole time. I don’t want to be here. Just leave me alone. We are healthy. The baby was-- I think it’s the APGAR test? He was a 10. Like, leave us alone. That’s how I felt. But, you know, you have to. They are doing their job. Internally, because I am dealing with all of this other stuff, this resentment that I definitely had not dealt with yet from losing my home birth. It was just a bad hospital stay for me. I hated every minute of it.
Although I also had this beautiful little baby so that’s definitely-- we got through. It was okay. But the nurses were just not super sensitive. The pain of a C-section recovery was horrible for me. I’ve had a lot of people say, “Oh, mine wasn’t bad.” Mine was terrible. I don’t know if part of it was psychological because I was so traumatized from my experience, but it was bad. I couldn’t walk for two weeks. That meant I couldn’t carry my baby. We basically laid like blobs on the couch. Which I know is not, after having a vaginal birth, I get it’s not totally out of reason.
The pain was incredible. I just couldn’t even believe it. I was so beside myself. Actually, I was talking to my husband about it, because I said, “Do you remember that time?” I remember it being so dark for me. I cried a lot for like a month. I thought, well it’s like baby blues. It’s just hormonal. But like, I grieved the loss of my home birth. I was very, very sad about it. He said to me last night, “Yeah, I would have called that depressed. You were depressed for a little while.” I’m like, “Hmm,” because that’s not me. I am a very happy person.
It definitely took me down a dark road, but I will say in that, down that dark road, my midwife once again-- my post-ops were with her. I never even saw that doctor again because thankfully everything was well and I healed fine. But the appointments were so much more about me. I mean, we would sit for an hour at every appointment, just like every appointment before. She sits with you for a full hour and you talk about how you’re feeling, what’s on your mind and also, labor and delivery, you are prepping for it, but this was, “How are you feeling? How are you doing with this? What’s going on? What have you dealt with this week? How are people?” She wants to know the nitty-gritty of how I am dealing inside because she recognized how valuable that was and how that time could make or break you.
I remember one appointment. It was actually the first time we started, so it must have been my first appointment postpartum. It was me, my husband, and the baby. We were sitting on the couch. She sat across in the chair and she asked, “How are you doing?” It wasn’t like a friendly “How are you doing?” It was like, “How are you doing?” I hadn’t really had to answer that question yet and I just started bawling.
I am like, “I don’t know. I’m just thankful he is here.” She’s like, “Okay, but there is a ‘not’ because you’re crying.” I’m like, “I know, I just--” and I was able to let it all out. My sadness and my sorrow at the loss. She came and sat next to me. She put her hand in mine. She’d hand me a tissue and at one point, I was balled up in her arms and she was hugging me while I’m crying. She let me say it, feel it, and cry it out. My husband sat there I think, thankful because he doesn’t know what to do with this blubbering mess. To him, it’s just all emotion. And although he lost “what he wanted”, it wasn’t for him what it was for me you know? This was something-- it’s not tangible, but it is. And so, I am so thankful that I had her. She was like a therapist to me in that first month to walk me through dealing with what that meant.
Moral of the story, I feel like I got a redemptive birth with my home birth. But I couldn’t have gotten to the redemptive side of it had I not walked through truly dealing with how it made me feel and facing it, talking about it, processing it, and crying when I needed to cry about it. And then, I remember when I first got pregnant the second time around, I had that fear. That brought it up in a whole new way. So then I had to deal with it again. I remember saying to her in my second pregnancy, “Angie, I just wish this wasn’t something that I had to deal with. It’s almost like I am resentful of it.” She was like, “Well, that’s understandable.” She was like, “It does bring up more questions for you to have to ask.” Because I said, “It’s making me more stressed out.”
She’s like, “Well, I get it. It’s bringing up more questions, but at the same time, every pregnancy is different. Every baby is different. Nothing is wrong with your body. This did not happen because there is something wrong with you”. She’s like, “You have to begin anew.” It was so good to have her as the same provider as with him because we had already been on this journey together. She knew where I was coming from when I would have fear and anxiety.
I think that’s it for Nash‘s birth. I really wanted to emphasize the hardship that it was for me, but at the same time, there were so many lessons. I don’t think I did say this. I took away from that birth, the coolest thing I feel like you can take away from this, is that control is an illusion. We don’t have control over anything. We can plan, and prepare, and make choices that we think are going to work, but ultimately, things happen.
To let go of that in my life, which I would say, maybe that’s a struggle of mine. To be able to see life from that perspective now, and I won’t say it’s gone, but I am able to see that even with the best of control-- me planning, down to my birth affirmations hung and my birth tub blown up. I mean, there was not even a shot that was not going to happen and it didn’t happen.
It allows me to release and just say, “Okay, God. Your plan. You know best for me.” I am thankful that I was able to have a C-section because my baby is here safely and I don’t know what would’ve happened. Really, we don’t know. I’m thankful that was a possibility. I don’t like the way it happened. I don’t like the way the staff treated me. But I, at the end of the day, can say like, “He is here and I am thankful.”
Meagan: I love that. I just posted the other day on our stories just about that. My first C-section baby-- she just turned nine. That is something. I was like, “I am so thankful. I am thankful for my C-section.” It took me a long time to be able to say that. You know? I am grateful for my C-section because it is something that led me to where I am today. It honestly made me stronger. Right? A stronger person, yeah.
Brittany: Yeah. I take that too.
Meagan: Yeah. So, I love that you said that.
Brittany: Yeah. Okay, so, my birth with Rory.
Rory is six months old and that pregnancy was also an easy pregnancy. I will say it was harder. The second time around was harder. I remember complaining to all my friends like, “Was your second time just a little bit more intense?” And they would say, “Yes.” Even my midwife, there was two of them at the time in the beginning and then it ended up only being Angie, but I remember Margot telling me a couple of times like, “Yeah. All of the pregnancy symptoms just get a little bit harder each time.” I’m like, “Oh, that’s wonderful. I definitely didn’t know that.” But yes. It was true. It was a relatively easy pregnancy.
I worked the whole time up until 36 weeks, which is when COVID hit and we were shut down. That was actually a blessing in disguise. I took it when it happened, like, “Man. Time with just my family. My family of three before the baby comes.” I mean, it was hard because my husband is a personal trainer and I am a hairstylist, so we were both shut down. Of course financially, not a great time right before I’m supposed to have a baby and be out for months, but it also was like, “Okay, Lord. Thank you. Thank you for this time because we are never going to get this back and also, I am super pregnant right now. This is kind of nice to not be standing on my feet for 38 hours a week.”
Like I said, that was a pretty good time to be home and experience that time. But, I’m trying to think. I went to 40.4 weeks and I went in for my appointment. Or, it was 40.2 I think I was, and she’s like, “Well?” The appointments already were so different. We would meet in the car. I’d sit in my car and she would come out. We’d both be masked. I’d have to lay my seat back and she would do the ultrasound. She would open the door, and she would do the ultrasound and talk to me outside through the door.
At that point, after she had done that, everything was healthy and fine. She was like, “Do you want me to do a membrane sweep on you since you are past due?” I was like, “Well, you know, whatever you think. If you think it’s a better chance of me having a baby sooner, but it’s not putting any risk involved.” She’s like-- I remember her telling me a brief summary of numbers. I was just like, “Yeah. Let’s do it.”
She always was like that. She never just answered with a feeling. She would give a statistic or a number to back up whatever it was. At that point I had my membranes swept with Nash and it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t that uncomfortable, so I was like, “Yeah, we’ll do it again.” Well, when she was in there, she was like, “Do you want me to do cervical acupressure?” And I was like, “I don’t know what that is, but does that help a baby come?” She was like, “Yeah it can.” I was like, “Alright, let’s do it.”
I was so ready to meet this baby. Like I had said to many people the last few weeks, “I feel like I am a kid going to Disney World.” But it’s frustrating because it’s like, you’re going to Disney World next week, and you’re four years old and you have no idea when tomorrow is. I just want to get there.
It was like this excited eagerness that also could easily turn to anxiety. I’m ready to get there. Once she offered that, it was like, “Yes, please.” That night, I had already scheduled a date with a girlfriend. I went over to her house and sat on the ball. We talked pregnancy and birth. She shared her birth story, which I had already heard once, but it was just good to talk about where I was at with a friend that I felt comfortable being myself with.
I remember my doula had sent me, which I should add-- the week leading up, my doula was amazing. She was doing guided meditations with me on a video conferencing a few nights a week for a couple of weeks before my birth.
We were talking. Sometimes we would call and chat. I would tell her how I was feeling or how the appointment went and she would talk me through things. A lot of times she was just like a therapist, honestly. Not like a you-should-do-this therapist, but just somebody to listen, and care, and understand. She also had helpful birth prep stuff that we did. You know, stretching. She even did a video call. This is so cool. She and her husband went in their living space, got their camera out, and me and my husband got ours out, and they showed us different partner support stretching and pressure points for us to do with each other. They would help my husband basically prepare to help me through before she could get there. That was pretty cool.
So anyway, she was awesome. She just definitely helped keep me grounded to where I was ready and I had all the tips. I knew I had all my tools in my tool belt, but they were ready to be used when needed.
Okay, fast forward. Sorry, I had to backtrack because I didn’t want to leave that out. Elizabeth is my doula and she is amazing. I don’t want to shortchange her.
The morning of, I started feeling— The next day after that cervical acupressure appointment, I started having cramps at 10:00 a.m. They were mild. They basically stayed mild for two to three hours, but they were pretty consistent. I’m like, “Well, this could be something.” I kept her up to date. She basically said, “You know.”
I had my sister-in-law come and hang out with my son so I could sit on the birth ball and just breathe and focus on what was happening because twice before that week, I felt like I might be starting labor, and then something stressful happened. I swear my body was like, nope. It’s not time. I told my sister-in-law after the second time, I’m like, “This is so frustrating. I just want to go into labor. I feel like life happens, and then suddenly my body just stops,” because I had, like I said, cramping and probably labor beginning.
So this time, she was like, ‘I’m coming over. I’m going to take care of Nash and you can just do what you’ve got to do.” I got in at my chiropractor at like 12:00 p.m. that day and I told her, “I think I’m in labor, but I’m not really sure. Do what you’ve got to do. Let’s help get these things going.” And so, she did. I left there. I grabbed subs. I went home. We ate the subs and then I felt them come on. I don’t know if this is a thing, but I swear whenever I eat anything during labor or drink anything, including back to the first time, or back to lunchtime, it made contractions worse. It was like, “Whoa.” So after lunch is when I felt like labor kicked in. It was like, “Alright this is happening.”
I called my doula I was like, “Yeah. It’s getting real over here. I definitely think this is happening,” but the timing of it was not consistent yet. She’s like, “Alright. Well, call me back in an hour or I will call you if I don’t hear from you.” An hour flew by because she called me and I was like, “It’s definitely getting stronger and longer and more intense.” She was like, “Okay, well. Let’s just hang out on the phone for a little bit. I’d like to hear you have a few and then we will talk.”
We did. She was like, “I’m going to get ready and come over. It will be about an hour,” because she lives a little bit away. She’s like, “But I will be there soon.” I was like, “Well, you don’t have to.” I almost felt like, but if this isn’t, I don’t want to psych myself out. She’s like, “Well, it’s up to you, but I think you’re having a baby today.” And it was like, “Oh my gosh. This is happening.”
That moment, I switched from “I don’t know, is this?” to “Okay, it’s go-time.” I told myself from the very beginning, make every contraction count. Let your body do what you have to do. Don’t fight it. If you feel yourself fighting it, correct it, and release. I really do feel like I did that other than literally maybe two or three contractions. I feel like I just was in it. I was doing that deep lion, not even lion. It’s like a moaning laborer. I don’t know. What do you guys call it? Singing through labor?
Meagan: My husband calls it “mooing like a cow.” That’s what he told me. He’s like, “You were mooing like a cow.” Because I was like, “Ooooh,” you know? But yeah, it’s definitely-- I just call it a rhythm. You find your rhythm.
Brittany: Yes. Yes! I remember my midwife made me practice in the office while I was pregnant and I felt so ridiculous. She’s like, “Okay. Now do it after me.” I was just like, “Oh my gosh.” But it felt so good. You just want to keep doing it because it kept me going. You know? It was like, “Oh, yes. That one worked.” I felt like every single one got a little bit more intense, but with my breathing and my noise, I was able to make it through.
I felt like labor got intense probably around 12:30 p.m. and at 6:30 in the evening, it had obviously progressed and gotten more intense. My midwife, I think she got there at 5:30. So five hours later, and she was like, “How are you doing?” I said, “I feel good. I feel strong.” I just felt like, “Oh, this is not that bad.” I mean, it was hard, and it’s uncomfortable, and it wasn’t easy by any means, but I felt like, I can totally do this. She checked me.
Elizabeth got there at 3:30, my doula. At that point, I was in the bath. They were routine. I don’t even know the timing of it all, but it was probably two to five minutes apart regularly, but lasting for a minute. My contractions were long for the whole time and they got longer than that. I’m sorry, lasting like two minutes because I know a minute is the norm. It lasted two minutes.
Anyways, once Angie got there, she checked me. We had talked about how I did not want to know how far along I was. I didn’t want to get in my head about it. I just wanted to know if I was doing better. Since she had checked me the day before, she knew what I was. I was at 3.5. Hindsight being 20/20, 3.5 centimeters dilated, and apparently I was at 1.5 the day before. So I had progressed. But that was at 6:00 p.m. I think, that she checked me. No. I’m sorry. It was 7:00 that she checked me.
Labor was intense to me, so I don’t know. But I guess she thought I had a long time to go. She thought we would have an (inaudible) baby, she said. She lives five minutes away. She was like, “I’m going to go home and feed the kids and put them down for bed. Your doula is here, so I told Elizabeth to keep in touch with me, and I will be back.” She was gone and it went from bad to worse. No, it really wasn’t. It went from okay to oh my gosh, like an out-of-body experience. I really felt like I was floating above myself watching this happen. I felt like my skin was coming out of itself. I’m like, I can’t. There is no other description for it.
I’m like, “I think I need to go to the bathroom.” I know that that’s a sign, but I really felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet, so she’s like, “Okay, well let’s just go to the toilet.” She had been trying to talk me into the toilet anyway. I was like, “Okay.” So we went there and I definitely had transition on the toilet, hindsight being 2020. But I just thought I was going to the bathroom because that happened simultaneously. I think she did too, but okay.
This is TMI, but we’re talking labor and delivery, and this is what we do,I feel like. Okay, I am not want to go to the bathroom in front of people. I am a very private person like that. But I’m literally holding onto her. She is standing in front of me and I’ve got my arms wrapped around her shoulders. She is supporting me as I am contracting and going to a different zone. It was incredible. The intensity was crazy. She just talked to me through it and said things to me like, because we had talked about it before, “This is that crossing bridge that you are coming to. You have to get over it and then you’ll meet your baby.” At that point, I hadn’t thought that Angie should be there, but she probably should have been there and she wasn’t.
After maybe 30 minutes of that, I was like, “I just feel like I need to go to the bathroom. I want to get in the tub.” We got in the tub and she’s like, “Okay, well Angie told me to let her know,” Oh no, she said that on the toilet. “Angie told me to let her know when you’re feeling pushy.” I said, “Well, I am pushing,” but I thought I was pushing going to the bathroom. She’s like, “Okay, well.” We went to the tub.
I had one contraction in the tub and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I am definitely pushing.” She’s like, “Okay, well do me a favor and reach and see if you feel her. I’m like, “Um, no”. She’s like, “Okay, well reach in there and see if you feel her.” I got one knuckle in and I felt her head. And so, she’s like, “Okay, Vinny, you need to call Angie right now. He called her.
My son is home at this point. He had been taken away for the day and was home. He was freaking out in the bedroom because he could hear mommy. I didn’t know this, but he was going, “What’s wrong with mommy?” My husband runs in the room to be there for him while I am-- I mean, this all happened within a matter of 10 minutes while I am in pushing mode. I only pushed four times.
And so, she’s stuck at the door. Somebody accidentally locked the door. She’s stuck at the door calling my husband on repeat to let her in. Finally, he does let her in. She was there for a couple of minutes. She walks into the room and I pushed the baby out. It was incredible.
Meagan: Holy cow.
Julie: That’s amazing. That’s the way to do it.
Brittany: She’s like, “You were waiting for me!” I was like-- Honestly though, in my head, she didn’t even have to be there. I was just like, “This baby is coming. She is coming.”
Julie: That’s awesome.
Brittany: Yeah, it was. It was such a cool and uneventful experience which is exactly what I wanted. You know? Everything happened the way that my body was supposed to. Labor is tough and there were things where you were like, “I’ll take away from that too.” Like, man. I really can do anything. It’s just my mind that gets in the way, but my body is capable of almost anything, which is cool to take away from that. But I also feel like it’s the same. I wouldn’t know how valuable that is had I not have had the C-section and realized that my body is also capable of another kind of hard. So, yeah. That’s basically my story.
Julie: I love it. I absolutely love it. There are so many fun things.
Meagan: I do too.
Julie: Meagan, what do you want to talk about?
Meagan: I know. Well, I want to talk about that feeling, right? That “oh crap” feeling, because I sometimes we get it really early and it is so hard and we are not complete, right? It is so hard to fight past it. And then, we get it where you are like, “I really don’t-- I think I just really do need to have a bowel movement,” and then it’s a baby.
Brittany: And it was a baby!
Meagan: It’s so hard. It’s so hard. It’s so, so hard. But I’m so glad that everyone made it and all is well. But yeah, just like you said. This baby is coming. Following your intuition and knowing that.
I really want to go back. I know this is maybe just because I just talked about this the other day, but I really want to go back to the C-section, on being grateful for your C-section.
Julie: You are on the same wavelength as me, Meagan. Take it away.
Meagan: Because this is not something that a lot of people say, and when you said that-- I don’t know if you saw my story. Did you see my story the other day? On Instagram?
Meagan: So, see? That makes me want to talk about it more because you didn’t even see that. This is something that I want to encourage all of you listeners to do. I want you to step back. And you said it yourself, the C-section recovery-- things were not great. They weren’t easy. It wasn’t an easy journey. It was scary and you were left alone, and your husband was pulled away from you and you were just like, “Oh my gosh,” and you’ve got people saying all of these things that are just-- they are trying to help, but they’re not.
You could look at that situation and say, “That was terrible in so many ways. That was not what I wanted in every way, right? I planned this home birth. I had this awesome team. It was terrible and I was not where I wanted to be.” But, you said, “Yeah, that sucked and it was hard, but I am grateful for it.”
I want to encourage listeners out there to try and get to that space. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m not saying it’s going to be, you wake up one day or you wake up the next day and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m over it. What happened to me happened and I’m grateful for it.”
And I’m not saying you have to be grateful for what happened. Right? I just want to try and encourage people to be grateful for yourself, and your body, and your baby for getting through that time. Take note and notice where it may have made you strong. Does that make sense? Am I making sense, you guys?
Julie: No, it makes sense. I love it.
Brittany: The lesson. The lesson in it. What you take from it.
Meagan: What you take from it. Especially, everything that is going on with all the politics, social media, and corona, all of these things. It’s so easy to pull from the negative in every direction in life. It really is. It’s okay that these negative things happen. We understand that. I don’t want to ignore that. But if we step back and we pick out the positive, it really gives that a different perspective. This is not VBAC related at all, but this is something I had to do literally today.
So, as most of you may or may not know, I’m a really big obsessed person. I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I am obsessed with finding a good deal.
Julie: Um, yes. Yes, she is. I can vouch for that statement.
Meagan: Right? I’m obsessed with that. And so, as a lot of you may know, we are remodeling our home. I found this microwave that needed to go in my new pantry and it’s a $1200 microwave. Well, I’m sorry, but that is seriously-- no. I’m not doing that. I’m not paying that. And so, I totally just searched Facebook marketplace and our local classified ad here looking for a specific type of microwave. I found one. It was $250 and I was stoked.
Julie: No. Really?
Brittany: That’s awesome.
Meagan: Yeah. It’s brand new. He’s like, “It’s brand new.” I went and got it and it was in the box, still in the plastic, everything. Right? And he’s like, “Yeah, it’s brand new,” and I was like, “Okay, so it does work, right?” He’s like, “Yeah, I mean it’s brand new.” We pulled it out. We tried it. I’m like, “Okay.” So, we brought it back. I bought it. We brought it back. I plugged it in, turned it on, drawer came out. It seemed great. This was two months ago.
Well now, we just finished-- we are not finished, but we just finished the space so I can bring this microwave in. Well, guess what? It doesn’t work. It doesn’t heat up.
Julie: No. Meagan! Oh my gosh.
Meagan: I know. I am devastated. I am like, “How can I do that? How did I not check that? I don’t understand. Why would I? If it turned on, it turns on, right? Why would I think?” I don’t know. Anyway. But all morning, I’ve been fretting. I told my husband, I’m like, “I’m so mad at myself that I had to get this deal and it doesn’t even work.”
Now, this guy took $250 cash. I wrote him and he’s like, “Sorry, it’s been too long. I can’t help you,” and blocked me. I’m like, “Oh my gosh. That’s $250! What the heck?” He said it was new. I’m distraught. My husband sends me a text message and says, “I want you to step back and look at our kitchen. Look at how many things went right, and how you crushed it in all the other ways.” I was like, “You know what? You’re right.”
It’s the same thing with birth. I didn’t want that C-section. That is not what I wanted. It’s the last thing I wanted. But at the same time, I am stepping back and I’m going to pick through. I’m going to look at all the positive amazing things that came out of that outcome that I didn’t desire. I’ll tell you what, Women of Strength, I really do not believe I would be here today with you and Julie if it weren’t for that original C-section.
I would not be an advocate for birth in the way, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be an advocate, but in the way that I am today without that C-section. I don’t know if I would have a connection with my daughter. Now, this is something that a lot of people talk about, right? I don’t feel as connected because I didn’t have this vaginal birth, and it wasn’t this natural baby on my chest. But, I feel like through my daughter, through my healing, and my cesarean, her and I healing together, talking about her birth and processing her birth with her, I have grown closer to her.
And so, I just want to encourage you today to step back, pick it apart, and look at the positive because there’s so much negative in the world. Pick out that positive. Hold onto it tight and never let go.
Julie: Um, Meagan? I absolutely love how you turned that microwave story around and applied it to birth. That was a spot-on analogy. Like, really though. But secondly, bring me your microwave. Me and Nick will fix the heating element.
Meagan: Seriously, it’s so bad.
Julie: No, really though. Plus you have to come see my new house anyway.
Meagan: I do need to come see your new house.
Julie: Awesome job for Ric for saying all the right things and being a good contributor to the podcast today.
Meagan: Yes. But yeah. So anyway, so that’s my message today. I love your story in so many ways, but man, I held onto that when you said that. I was like, “Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Everyone needs to have that message.” So, that’s my message for you.
Julie: Well, we get to ask questions now.
Meagan: Yes, we do.
Julie: Good message, Meagan. I love that. I was just talking to a couple of people actually on Instagram the other day about the mother-baby connection. When they have their VBAC, they look at the stronger bond they instantly have with their VBAC baby, and then it brings grief and guilt because they didn’t have that immediate strong connection with their Cesarean baby. It’s easy to compare the two when you just have two experiences, right?
This is what I told both of these mothers that messaged me. I was like, “Listen. I have had four births. One Cesarean and three VBACs. Each of those bonding experiences has gone completely differently. Bonding with your baby is just like any other relationship that you have. It takes work. It takes time. It takes dedication. There’s going to be ups. There’s going to be downs. There’s going to be times where you guys feel like you’re so intimate and close and you love each other. I am talking about the mother and baby connection. And there’s going to be times where you feel like you have no idea what your child is doing or thinking, and how you even wanted kids anyway.” Am I right?
The thing is, it takes work. All four of my babies’ connections were different. My third birth, which was my second VBAC, was my strongest connection by far. Right now, she is four and a half, and I have no idea what the crap she’s doing. I’m pretty sure she hates me. Like, really. I’m pretty sure she does.
But the thing is, is that my Cesarean baby, he’s my oldest. He’s seven and a half now. I’m starting to have conversations with him about emotions and feelings and talking about decisions we are making as a family. I think that is strengthening our bond too even deeper. And so, I don’t know. I guess that’s just my two cents to add to your perspective because it just takes work. There are good things in all the parts, even in the worst of parts.
Julie: Like your gorgeous microwave. I will fix it for you. It is my mission now because I know you’ve been talking about that microwave. I know. I know you. Alright, let’s get to the questions.
Meagan: Okay, so one of the first questions 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 your birth?
Brittany: A secret lesson. Yes, I guess with my first one, I wish I would have considered possibly what a different story might look like. That maybe I would have had that perception of, “Okay well, if I do have to have a C-section, I want to know what I’m walking into,” because had I have known what those four walls it looks like, I might not have been so shocked by them. Do you know what I mean? When I got there.
And, ask all the questions. Because I definitely feel like going to a midwife, she already gives you-- I mean, there are worksheets with ways to prompt you for questioning, and because I was listening to you guys, I had about one million questions. But I know when you’re not dealing with a midwife-- a lot of times I’ve often felt like doctors make me feel silly or almost like, “Why are you asking me that? Don’t you trust me?” Ask anyways. Ask anyways, because you’ll be paying them you want to have those answers. When you are in the throes of labor, you want to feel nothing but confidence.
Meagan: Yeah. In your answer, you said, “Control is an illusion.” I really loved that.
Brittany: Yes, it is. That’s my lesson. That is my lesson from my C-section. It really does apply to so many areas of my life.
Meagan: I love it. Love it, love it. Okay, and I know you are driving, but the last question is:
What is your best up for someone preparing for a VBAC?
I feel like you just said that. Educate yourself. Ask all the questions. Anything else you would like to add?
Brittany: Okay so, I left this part out. Originally, I was considering maybe we don’t hire the doula this time. We are trying to cut back on finances. My midwife looked at me, she goes, “Do you have confidence in your husband in being a great support system for you at all points during labor?” I was like, “Hmm, I don’t know.” I came home and I asked him. I said, “Do you have confidence in being a great support system?” He was like, “No”. I was like, “Okay.” He was like, “I don’t got this.” He was like, “I don’t know what labor looks like.” He’s like, “I definitely think we should have somebody who is a good support system for you.”
Meagan: Alright Brittany, thank you so much. We just love you. We love hearing your story and all of your tips and advice for all the listeners. We know that it’s going to help them.
Julie: Absolutely. Thank you so much. It was great to have you on.
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