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Both my C-Sections were scheduled C-Sections therefore I have never really experienced Labor before.
I had been feeling what I thought were Braxton Hicks since 26 weeks pregnant. At around 35 weeks, I started feeling them more often. I would have maybe 2-5 contractions a day. I was so excited when I reached 39 weeks and 3 days. I had never been pregnant past 39 +2 since my C-Sections were scheduled at 39 weeks and the second at 39 +2. At 39 +3, I decided to keep both my girls home and run a couple of errands. Naturally, I did a Target run and was not feeling too well. Started to feel really tired and wanting to go home and lay down. I wanted to go to the grocery store to start stocking up on food for us and our Birth Team. As I was paying, I remember telling the cashier, “Oh boy, I think this baby might come sooner than I thought.” She was like “Yeah, you look tired. You should go home and rest”. I went home to rest.
I had my 41w induction-turned-cesarean 19 mos ago at INOVA ALX. When I found out I was pregnant this past August, I knew I wanted a totally different experience for this labor. I quickly reached out the Midwives at GW and they were encouraging about my chances of VBAC and took me on as a patient. By fall, I had enlisted the help of doula + midwife Ryann Morales to act as my birth doula. I began to make plans and absorb as much information as I could to prepare my mind and my body for a vaginal birth.
My first birth was in July 2011; my daughter was born at 38 weeks via c-section after I spent one month on hospitalized bedrest for IUGR, placental infarct, and velamentous cord. I disagreed with the very conservative IUGR protocol at Fairfax Hospital (mandatory delivery at 37 weeks via c-section preceded by hospitalized bedrest), and therefore my hospitalization was fraught with lots of arguing with my providers and stress on many levels. The culture of obstetrics at Fairfax is highly conservative, to the point that for me, it did more harm than good.
The doctors finally discovered I had severe preeclampsia and took me to an OR for delivery, without the option for an induction. My post-op course was complicated. I was on percocet for weeks, motrin daily for five months. I couldn't walk without significant pain for seven weeks, couldn't lay flat for about four months. I was so swollen from the preeclampsia that I couldn't bend my ankles and knees. I was so weak from being bedridden for a month in the hospital, that it was very difficult to recover from surgery. Six months after my surgery, I was still having pain at my incision site and the OB said everything was fine, so I did my own reading and ended up doing physical therapy on myself to get rid of surgical adhesions. "Ending female pain" by Isa Herrera was an invaluable resource. Ultimately, it took me about a year to recover from that birth.
Born 12:15 AM, Thursday May 12, 2011
This is long, so apologies from the beginning! First, a little bit about the birth of Adrian in May 2009. I was planning a natural hospital birth with a CNM/OB practice. After an easy and complication-free pregnancy, I fell victim to my own ignorance and intervention-happy CNMs who failed to recognize that Adrian was OP. Labored 17 hours in the hospital without drugs, but after AROM at 7.5cm led to super-intense and painful back labor I gave in and had an epidural, and was put on pit and who knows what else. Progressed to 10 but even before that the OB on call came by and said I'd need a c/s but could "push if I wanted to." I did - for 45 minutes – before having a c/s that was very traumatic and didn't go smoothly. I ended up with an infection in my incision that led to daily home nurse visits and weekly OB visits for 2 months postpartum, plus PTSD that lasted about a year. We also had tons of trouble nursing. I found my local ICAN, started attending meetings, and determined that the local hospital VBAC rates were scary (1%) and the best chance for success would be to stay home with a competent midwife.
Helen's first birthday was today. As I think back to last year, I wonder if the magic of that day could be owed in part to my birth experiences with Charles and Sebastian. If I had never felt the terror I felt when I first lay on an operating table with bright lights shining down, a horrible tugging and pressure down below, tears streaming down my face, would I be grateful for the experience of vaginal birth? I was just looking at the clock and thinking this time last year... (as I have done many times over the last day and a half). Well, at this time last year I was walking down the hall after a lovely shower. But I was walking very gingerly, I was quite sore and it was very uncomfortable to move around. Certainly sitting down was very painful! The pain factor was not unlike a c-section recovery. Of course it lasted much less time than c-section pain and my recovery was very swift. But initially the recovery was difficult. Without two c-sections in my past, I am not sure what I would have thought about a vaginal birth.