Tag Archive | VBAC

Birth and the Great Beyond

I wanted to write more about my VBAC.  I say “My VBAC” realizing that, to some, it makes it seem like I am focusing on the childbirth experience.  There are so many more things that this was about, for me.  I will admit, I struggled some with feeling like it was more about the experience, much like a wedding…. but ultimately, my husband’s and my childbirth decisions were very closely tied to wanting our baby and me to be safe.

My Daughter and I

For my husband and me, the “curse of childbirth” (in the Bible) is real.  Ain’t no way around it.  We live in a broken world, with sinful people and broken bodies and an imperfect earth.  My husband and I don’t trust the human aspect of this equation as though it is some sort of all-perfect religious equation that can be left alone to work perfectly at all times… and I am not a cow or a dog, able to have the baby in a hall closet and unfortunate to lose if I die.  I am a human, much more important by our standards, and the risks are not just physcial — there are spiritual and emotional ones involved, for my husband and me.

Hubby and I with our Son

I wanted what is best for my baby, and for me (this addendum had to be taught me by others before I would admit it…. I used to think just the baby was important… but I am too).  “Healthy Baby, Healthy Mama,” as the saying goes.  So… my husband and I quickly found ourselves in the midst of a cultural upheaval, to say the least, here in the states, about childbirth.

From the homebirth/natural childbirth side: Many parents are turning to homebirth in the midst of legal-hassle-led and OB-oriented hospital-childbirth.  They want to be able to relax in childbirth (which lends itself incredibly toward healthy childbirth).  They want to know that something will not be pushed on them in the middle of labor or even toward the end of pregnancy, all too common, which could ultimately lead to complications.  Many parents are faced with completely unnecessary surgical deliveries, which can interrupt the nursing process and endanger the incredibly important bond between babies and mothers or lend itself to even other complications.

With my Baby Boy

From their parental standpoint, there are so many things which could go wrong and not be in their control due to the hospital’s or OB’s interference… and if these can be avoided, then childbirth will likely go better overall for the mother and the baby.  Sure, some folks get wrapped up in the childbirth experience itself, but not everyone does… I hope.  But what’s wrong with wanting the best experience possible, sans the risk factors?

Then there’s the doctor and hospital side of things:  they are doing their job with the advanced ability that medicine has to offer!  What could be seen as unnecessary, they still do not have the luxury of taking the chance over — because they have seen and do see the few times when that small percentage of risk became a reality.  Save the Mama and the Baby — that’s their job.  By the way Doc, don’t get sued: cover your rear end.  The risks are likely not to affect THIS patient, so forgive them when they get in your face about your interference, but if something DID go wrong, you are the one to blame.  Poor doctors!  No wonder some of these human beings — because that is what they are after all, not automatons — get into a mode of “do it my way or the highway.”  Why shouldn’t they?  Same goes for the hospital.

Our hospital/church friend with Baby Girl

But in many cases the pendulum swings too far, and before it can come back, the damage is done to hundreds of thousands… parents endure awful birth experiences.  Doctors find themselves incredibly liable — yet many still take that responsibility even if it means they can’t do some of the next advancement of medically proven childbirth.  So there are losses on both sides.


In the face of our first pregnancy, after the debate and the research (which we wanted to make sure was not slanted one way or the other by the source… and we don’t just read stuff on the internet!!!) we decided we did NOT want to take the risk of having a child at home.  Say something did go wrong…. did we want that on our heads if we had to get to a hospital and couldn’t get treated in time?  No way.  So hospital birth it was, and we asked the Lord for a good doctor.  We found one.  He was on the cautious side, but he was a good captain to have for this ship.

Waiting for the end, on bedrest, #1 pregnancy

Labor began.  I happened to go into labor already exhausted from hypertension-watch and intense swelling.  After hours of waiting, painful labor, epidural, more waiting… sleeping and rest, what a gift!  Nothing happened… we crossed the line of time where infection was now a risk… more waiting… our doctor was very gracious, trusting us not to sue his rear end should something go wrong because we asked for more time… finally, a decision was made.

Me and my Doctor

And I ended in c-section for my first birth.  Was it a failure?  No.  My baby was born, healthy,  alive.  I walked away, healthy, alive.  Why did it feel like a failure?  Thinking over a situation to see how you could have done it differently, for future reference, can be good.  However, my thinking over it instantly became a menagerie of second-guessing (as though we didn’t do the best we could with the time and awareness we had).  Add to that an incredible disruption of my bond with my baby due to infection and surgery recovery.  Then it took three months to get him to nurse properly and get him off of formula.  The c-section was hard to recover from, and we moved, which made it harder to really rest.

With my Son after c-sect.

I became obsessed with the fear that my friends who believed in childbirth at home or even just natural childbirth would think I was a fool and caused this all to happen.  I was afraid to talk to them about it, the very people I should have been able to open up to for support.  My fears became supported by their sidelong glances as they discussed their natural childbirth experiences or plans.  Even though they might have just been acknowledging we disagree on the subject, I immediately felt as though I had been condemned to walk a lonely path of never talking about the subject in their company since they could only assume (in my perception) that my c-section was my problem since I didn’t listen to them in the first place (as though any of them even thought that).  Never mind that if they truly felt that way, it was their problem and not mine!  I had a hard time drawing that line.

Working with Baby Boy

My body felt a natural loss over the physical anticipation of childbirth.  Like being told I would be climbing a mountain only to find my leg broken and being carried over it instead.  I didn’t know how to still feel the victory of the summit and descent when my body hadn’t done anything the way I had expected it to do.  Or a better analogy: I learned chess as best I could, sat down to play, made the best choices I could, and still “lost.”

There was this overhanging feeling that somehow I could have been a master of the situation and had a different outcome.  I believe now that is a lie from the pits of hell.  Childbirth is no different than any other situation in life: we do the best we can, learn from our mistakes, roll with the punches, and play the hand we’re dealt.  To think we have some sort of true ability to avoid all mistakes and control the outcome to any extent is fallacy.

Sleeping Prince

Older and wiser women as well as the folks we turned to as experts, all encouraged us that we had done our best and the baby and I were both fine.  But my heart wondered.  I struggled with wondering whether I could have done a better job with my infant if I hadn’t had to recover from a c-section, maybe I could have tried to push harder, maybe the hospital and doctor weren’t really looking out for me, maybe I could have this or that or the other…. and after a year I was still hurting, lost in the maze of disappointment and confusion about what was really best.  I went round and round about it emotionally.

Why do doctors and natural birth folks disagree so much?  I wondered.  Why can’t they work together?  Why couldn’t I be stronger, smarter, more able, more confident, more decisive, you name it?  Add to that the hormones, my God the hormones!!!  Add to that the guilt about struggling about all this, when my Baby is Healthy!  And So Am I!

Still waiting to heal -- inside.

So…. when my next pregnancy came along (yes, we dared try again!!!  Even with all that on my emotional plate)… my husband and I thought we would approach the same safety desire with as much care as we could.  We decided to talk with our doctor, get his feedback, hear his side, and discuss our concerns.  He talked about how he’d done a lot to set me up for a healthy recovery and thought I’d be able to do a VBAC.  He was quick to support my desire to try for a more natural birth.  I wanted to have more support to handle labor, so we hired a doula who believed strongly in natural childbirth but supported our desire to have the safety factor of a hospital.  We asked the hospital and our contacts there for help with managing the post-delivery, no matter what happened.  We asked for prayer.  We got counseling for me with my fears and hurts about the previous experience.  We decided to put it behind us and trust our doctor and ourselves to do the best we could.  And we did.  Thankfully, the VBAC was successful.  I felt incredible, and had a renewed sense of confidence in myself, let alone my body.  The process was very healing this time, even though I think it would have been even if we’d had a c-section again.

With Baby Girl, post-VBAC

We did all of this in the face of many people throwing more info at us about how homebirth or natural childbirth could be the best thing for us… but we stuck to our instincts (which is what they would do in our shoes, right? Even if they chose something else?) and ultimately our decisions.  We even did this in the face of others telling us we were putting too much emphasis on this part of it anyway, that a planned c-section would be better.

My Mom, one of my prayer supporters

As I went through this process, I learned a few things.  I learned that God cared about how I felt.  Even if there are worse things happening in the world!!! I learned I had so much more to learn about birthing, and how births really are all so different — like fingerprints!  Even though I had learned so much in advance of my first pregnancy/delivery, I learned again as much or more this time.  Picking up things here and there, I found my first birth actually, really, indeed, had likely NEEDED a c-section (what an incredible thing to be able to learn, even though I felt I had been able to put it behind me already).  Thank God I was able to have a c-section, then!  I learned how wonderfully my hospital and doctor performed, considering some of the stories out there.

Resting at Home

I learned to come to grips with the fact that there could always be things which I could second guess or have go wrong that I could not control.  Including death.  I learned that the controversy lies far deeper than just a discussion here and there… it will take some very brave people, like me, trying to help blend the middle line so that these two worlds can come together and truly start working together.  I learned how unique that makes me.  I learned how awesome it can be to completely disagree with someone else about birthing choices and still have a great friendship.

I also learned how thankful I am that we DO have the choice to have a hospital birth if we need it, a sterile one, a controlled (to a certain extent) one, a safer one than so many women/parents have had for centuries.

With my Son, one month after Baby Girl was born

I learned how God was there all along, working to comfort me and help heal me of the hurt that this process did to me (here in His originally-beautifully-designed-world which has fallen to brokenness of all kinds).  I drew closer to Him because of it.  And last, but not least, I learned how I can trust Him to help me through the future struggles I may have in childbirth, or in life, just like this, or even if they’re harder.

Thank you, Lord, for childbirth!!!

With my Daughter

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.


Today I sit here, one day short of having a beautiful 5-week old baby girl.  I am so thankful I can hardly stand it.  I am healthy and so is the baby.  My VBAC was successful, and this girl was nowhere near May 20th, 7 lbs. 3 oz.  Ha, Ha!  Try several days overdue with a month of false labor, and a startling 9 lbs 6 oz!  Crazy!  More on that at a later time, perhaps.

Two Littlest

Many say, Oh, that we might see some good!  Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord.  /  You have put more joy and rejoicing in my heart than [they know] when their wheat and new wine have yielded abundantly.  Psalm 4:6-7, Amplified Bible.

At the times when I am so stressed I just want to lose it, or at the times I wonder, was I crazy to have two children under the age of two (my answer is no); when the laundry piles up and I can’t find anything… when I just want to watch an adult’s program on TV… when I just need to lie still and sleep a little longer… at those times, the verse above speaks to me.  I might find myself saying the first part (the complaint), and can then hold on to the truth in the second part (the rejoicing).

Six years ago, I thought I’d NEVER get to have kids.  I believed I would never meet anyone and be able to marry; that I would be alone so long that parts of my heart might embitter themselves permanently.  Even the Scriptures say “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12), and I felt pretty awful at that point.  I rooted down where I could, with a community of people who seemed to have some goodness and godliness, but all the same I yearned for more.  I could go on, but if you’ve been there, or are there, you don’t need me to, now do you!?

When I remember where I was then and see where I am now, I know I am truly blessed.  I see the health (in spite of the semi-chaos or hormonal upheaval) and I see the beauty.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t walk around in constant negativity.  I’m just processing the difficult moments and extreme satisfaction I am experiencing!

There is a baffling bittersweetness here: experiencing stress, but also deep peace.   Frustrated, but also overwhelmed with incredulity, joy and humble thankfulness.  This always reminds me of that scene in 50 First Dates where Drew Barrymore’s character wakes up to find herself married with a beautiful child and incredible view out her window.  She’s at once both scared and intensely thrilled.  That’s me.  I just have to work at the fresh perspective sometimes, while she gets it naturally each morning.  🙂

Thanks for reading, friends.  Thanks for this life, God.

(Warning: small adult humor moment at the beginning.)

…You Make Me Strong

My Baby Girl was finally born on June 8th, 2011, at 7:34 in the evening!  Praise the Lord, my princess is here, the false labor is over, my recovery can begin… and we can officially start this new chapter as a family. This was an incredibly healthy birth, from start to finish — successful VBAC, healthy baby girl, healthy mama… amazing adventure.

Beautiful Baby Girl

What was also incredible to me was, in fact, that I still did not escape the traumatic birth experience.  My first child’s birth was emotionally traumatic… I struggled for months afterward to cope with c-section after laboring all day and night.

First Birth - Transition to Surgery

I worked hard to hand the real control of this pregnancy over to the Lord… to honor Him in my stewardship over this young Baby Girl.  I felt He put her in my life because he knew the way I would strive to take care of her was just the way she needed to be cared for.  I did as much preparation as I could, research, asking questions, making decisions, prayerfully considering what I needed.  I began to deal with all my fears as well.  I know that birth is just the beginning, but in my family’s background there have been a range of scary and unsuccessful experiences.  My first birth had shattered a lot of my confidence at being able to handle a second birth, no matter which way things went.  Something meant to be so joyful instead became a sour and hurtful area… a place of isolation in fear rather than celebration.  Yeah, Satan really got in there… for a while.

My Baby Boy

About a month before the baby was due, I was feeling a confidence and strength that has lacked up until now.  I began to look forward to this experience instead of fearing it.

Now, here I avoided making this pregnancy about any of those first-birth things, went all the way to vaginal birth and beyond, and still — this birth proved to be just as traumatic in its own way.

This go-round, my pain was mostly physical.  There was some emotion to it, but more than anything else was the shock to my body.  I have never done anything as hard as this.  Ever.  Not even climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can compare to it.

Thank you for praying for me and with me.  This has been an emotional, and physically traumatic, month or so for us.

I am so pleased and thrilled and thankful that the Lord saw fit to bless our VBAC attempt.  I had so much support while in labor.  When we finally got to the other side of delivery and they weighed Crystal in at 9 1/2 lbs, I was shocked.  There is nothing quite like knowing that the concerns about her size and health were not only in the hands of the Lord but that he took us to the opposite end of the spectrum from where we asked her to be (born May 20th — around 37-38 wks — at a dainty 7 lbs) to where she ended up (born June 8th — around 41-42 wks — at a hefty 9 1/2lbs).  It just goes to show that what we want and what God can do are often two very different things… and just because we don’t get what we ask for doesn’t mean we aren’t going to be incredibly blessed and wowed by the outcome.

My Hubby and Doula at Crystal's birth

I know that birth happens every day, and many of you have seen it or done it over and over in your lives or your families’ and friends’ lives, but for myself, this was a harrowing experience and I want to share about it as a testimony to God’s grace, sufficiency, and healing in my life.  I am so glad to be on this side of the whole ordeal, but knowing what Satan stole from me the first time around with Clay, how he invaded my sense of womanhood and confidence in myself, how he snatched a lot of peace from my family as a result, I now reclaim that — not with the VBAC, but with the process of leaning into God as I faced those fears and hurts again this time around.  I am so thankful that God is returning those things which were lost.  Again, not because the VBAC was successful, but through everything he did in me in the process.

Thanks for reading, Friends.  Hope it is an encouragement to you.