Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean.

My Birth Stories.

Every VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean story begins with a previous birth story. The birth of my first daughter, Emerson Rose, 51/2 years ago was long and hard (28 hours of hellish, posterior labour, of a 9 pound 8/ 4.3 kilo baby), which 'ended' with a caesar being 'performed'. This was emotionally and physically devastating and led to real difficulty breastfeeding (which I then managed to continue for 3.5 years!!!!! Yay!!!) and bonding and to a lot of analysing and anguish.

So I began my research in pursuit of a different birth, for a baby I did not yet not have the courage to conceive, when my daughter was about one.

It took a lot of reading and research (and subsequently a lot of tears and healing) until I felt ready to try again, by this time my daughter was four!!!

A huge part of this preparation for a vaginal birth began around the time I was 3 months pregnant. This is when by some divine intervention I met Tina Wilkie through her VBAC support group. From the outset (that very first oh so important and galvanising phone call) Tina was amazing. Following this I became involved with Hunter Home and Natural Birth Support (Maternity Coalition), what a wonderful source of strength!!! Even so sometimes it was extremely confronting to hear of other people's amazingly beautiful birth experiences, but it was all a vehicle for me to examine my feelings more and more and to try to make sense of them, and it kept me focussed on wanting that VBAC and not giving up, no matter what obstacles real or imagined were laid in my path.

So I was introduced to optimal foetal positioning, the pink kit, and a whole new set of birth related 'skills'.

Time passed, many tears were shed and I occasionally 'lost the plot' and wanted to ignore the reality that this baby had to get out and that I had to keep moving forward and challenging myself, the hospital and at times it seemed nearly everyone around me!!! ("You'll just be booking in this time won't you", NO!!!, "…do you think you can have it normally/vaginally this time??? "…I am booking in for a caesar, I can't justify the risk of scar rupture and my baby dying" etc etc).

I encountered obstacles in obtaining one-to-one midwifery care from the hospital, then I got assigned and from the moment I met my midwife I knew it was not the kind of midwife I had so hoped for … this went on until about 32 weeks - when I asked to change care (I have since learned the term 'medi-wife' and see that as fitting many midwives' practice more accurately). This was stressful to say the least.

I then received one-to-one care for my visits from a gorgeous midwife!!!! Unfortunately she could not be at the birth with me, but she gave me immeasurable hope and strength and allowed me to examine my feelings and needs. So I had to take a chance on who would be on shift for the birth, but with Tina (who had so graciously and bravely offered to doula for me some time earlier) and Jamie, my partner, by my side I felt I could do it!!! I also had the support of a fabulous, caring and creative obstetrician who really believes in birth and the possibility of VBAC.

So my due date came and went (as they do) and soon I was eleven days over. Induction is a tricky option when you have had a caesar and so on Monday the 21st November 2005 I had my membranes swept and within an hour the first contractions had begun!!!!

I went home to labour and remained there until about 8pm (about 5 hours of labour at home!!), it was pretty intense rather quickly and by 8pm I just 'knew' it was time for my daughter, who had bravely been helping me through contractions, to go to nanna's, and to go to hospital before I could no longer handle the car ride from Raymond Terrace to New Lambton!!

The car ride was an experience in itself and I yelled and screamed nearly the whole way as the contractions were now two minutes apart and I could not move through them, so I had to yell!! Needless to say Jamie made it in record time!!! (He later told me he thought we were going to have her on the way!!!).

We arrived to find Tina waiting for us; I made it to the stairs and had another huge contraction, much to the dismay of people around us.

We then got in the lift and made it to just outside birth centre doors, where a fine audience of 'civilians' watched me through another drop-on-the-ground contraction, as the doors did not open quickly enough.

More contractions, more dropping, then finally to meet the midwife, oh no bad vibes already, she's trying to put me in the delivery suite not the birth room because 'having had a caesar and needing constant monitoring I'll end up there anyway', 'ok' I hear myself agreeing, my resolve to fight this already drowned out by the pain. Thanks to Tina we ended up where we needed to be, in the birth room! Midwife 'offside' but still flexing her ideas at us!!! We continued. It was intense…. contraction on top of contraction, with no real breathing space between. But I knew it was working.

Then a change of shift and with it the arrival of an angel!!!! I could not have 'ordered' a more patient, compassionate or beautiful midwife!!! Finally!!!
In the bath, monitoring, out of the bath, more monitoring (in case of scar rupture), and so it went, 4cm dilated, I'd hoped for 6. Within the hour 10cm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I began to push, this is where it had really unravelled last time, and it felt just the same, pushing to no avail, feeling like it was not working and that I did not understand how to do it!!!
We tried everything, positions, pink kit tricks, affirmations, visualisations, examining anything that could be blocking me mentally and finally after 2 hours of really pushing a decision was made to call the obstetrician. He arrived and we tried more tricks and positions, finally I had to lie down on my back and try to push her out, I so wanted that vertical birth and to reach down and grab my baby, but it was not to be!!!

Then finally it was time to accept some help….

A move to delivery suite room and then more pushing to try to avoid the forceps, this worked and then she was far enough down to use the ventouse or vacuum. What an experience!!! I had to hold my own legs back in a semi- sit-up and push like a person possessed, her head partly born, with the assistance of the ventouse, and then she was stuck by her shoulder (god will it ever end) a lot of screaming (me) and coaching (by Tina, the midwife, Jamie and the obstetrician) and the obstetrician reaching in and wrenching her shoulder out and she was born!!! During this time I got to touch her beautiful dark hair before she was out in the world - amazing - for a long time after I would recall this feeling and be in heaven, I could re-live it by touching her soft newborn hair on the same place for months after!!!! A seemingly small and simple act and a natural experience, but so in contrast to last time!!!

Beautiful serene dark blue marine eyes so peaceful and knowing, my baby on my bare chest, it is all I had hoped for and wanted- so healing, so wondrous and so time stopped still and the room became different. It was 4.30 am Tuesday 22nd November 2005, I said I would have her by sunrise and I had just made it.

Thirteen and 1/2 hours of labour (3 and _ just pushing) and we had done it!!! To this day it still 'blows my mind' that it worked!!!! Second-degree tears, stitches but I can walk (hobble) away!!!! No pain relief needed!!! Back to birth centre room and the best shower I have ever had, I can hold her, LOVE HER, and I know what is going on around me, (no morphine, pethidine etc etc like last time!!!)

Our 10 pound (4.52 kilo), 57cm, 36cm head circumference VBAC baby girl is here!!!

We named her Jessamy Faith, faith for all the faith required during the entire process.

A cup of tea, toast, I am present in each moment (often so very hard to do!)

I left hospital (I said I would walk out those doors myself, and I did!) 6 hours later!!!!! Homewood bound and on the biggest high of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

... (Of course it can't be so simple as to end there, we returned to hospital to NICU and then a three day stay, as my daughter had a bizarre reaction to our blood types mixing and was very sleepy, unable to feed and a little jaundiced), but we conquered all these and we haven't looked back (I won't even mention my ripped stitches!!!!!!)Thankyou Tina, my birth mentor and conscience and my amazing doula, she never waivered, even when it was just too horrible to watch!!! It would have been a lot less of an experience without you!!!

And to Jamie, as always ...thankyou!!!!

Yours in birthing, and in Mothering,

Lisa Zucca