Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Lovely VBAC After CBAC Story

The "OMG, A Baby Just Came Out of My Vagina!" VBAC Face
(Also called The Official VBACFace™ by Jill at the Unnecesarean)

As we enjoy the holidays, it's nice to be able to share some good news for a change.  And what better news can there be than a lovely birth story, with GREAT pictures to boot?

Below is a brief summary of Melek's birth stories and some of her birth pictures, all shared with permission. You can find longer versions of her stories on the ICAN blog, which she helps run.

I love these stories and just had to share them because she has some of the best birth photos EVER.  They just brought a giant smile of happiness to my face when I saw them.  And what better time of year to share them?

I always love to share VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) stories.  This one is particularly poignant to me because she had a CBAC (Cesarean Birth After Cesarean) when she tried for her first VBAC, as I did also.  And yet we both went on to have VBACs afterwards.

Many care providers assume that once you've had a cesarean, somehow your body is just not capable of birthing a baby vaginally.  Research shows that most of these women can, in fact, birth vaginally if given the chance to VBAC, but many are erroneously told they cannot.

And if you've gone for a VBAC and ended up with another cesarean instead, care providers almost without exception assume that you are somehow "broken" and cannot possibly have a vaginal birth.

Yet the experiences of Melek (and me, and many others I know) show that it is possible to have a VBAC after having gone through a CBAC.  And research shows that VBAC after more than one prior cesarean is definitely possible and reasonable.

It's important to note, of course, that not every cesarean or CBAC mother goes on to have a VBAC.  Sometimes it's truly not possible, sometimes medical considerations make it prudent to have a repeat cesarean, sometimes the mother is just done having children or doesn't want to consider laboring again, or sometimes she simply cannot find a supportive provider.  A vaginal birth is not the end-all, be-all of birth.  You are a mother regardless of how your baby arrives.  

But even so, there is something wonderful about women finally able to get their desired birth, something incredibly special about women who keep pushing for VBAC despite lack of support from some in the obstetric establishment, something incredibly brave about the tenacity of women who persevere despite medical professionals telling them that they are "broken*" or "damaged," something incredibly affirming about women showing that their bodies can give birth vaginally after all.

This is one of those stories.

Congratulations, Melek, we are so happy for you.  Congratulations on your new baby.  Thank you for being willing to share your birth pictures and your joy with us all.  Bless you and all your children.

*Sometimes when a birth story like this (i.e., someone who felt "broken" by their cesarean, etc.) is posted, some people's feathers get ruffled.  It's important to remember that this is one woman's story, one woman's perceptions about her births, and it doesn't have to reflect your own reality or opinions.  It's okay if your story is different.  Be happy for her anyhow.

Melek's Stories

Baby #1 (Cesarean):

Risked out of a birth at a birthing center with midwives because of essential hypertension, Melek was induced and ended with a c-section.  She was emotionally devastated when her doctor told her, "Well, all your babies will have to be born by cesarean and seeing how difficult this pregnancy was, you should probably only try for one more.”  She felt broken and damaged.

After the disappointment of her first birth and her doctor's discouraging words, Melek let her health habits slip for a while.  Realizing that she wanted to avoid intervention in a future pregnancy, she made an effort to improve her health. [Trigger warning for brief weight loss talk in the original story.]  In time, she was able to get off her blood pressure medications and conceive again.

An abbreviated version of this story can be found here, near the top of the entry.

Baby #2 (CBAC):

After getting off her blood pressure meds, Melek planned a home birth with wonderful midwives.  When she went into labor, however, baby's position was not quite optimal and labor was long and slow, then turned hard. Some non-reassuring signs were found and a hospital transfer was made.  She ended up with another cesarean, but while disappointed, did find the experience empowering in the end.  She wrote:
I was expecting to be devastated if I had a repeat c/s, but I was surprised with how not only content, but happy I was about my birthing. I had worked so hard for two days, listening to my body and working through contractions. I felt really respected by the hospital staff. No one ever once made me feel bad about being a home birth transfer. In fact, the OB that delivered Emre told me that he is sorry that it ended in a cesarean because he knew how badly I wanted a natural childbirth and how hard I worked for it. He didn't downplay the importance of my birth to me and that was so very special to me. I felt respected, validated and valued by every single person who was part of my birth experience. I never knew that a CBAC could feel like that.
Melek's full CBAC story can be found here.

Baby #3 (VBA2C): 

Melek spent a lot of time emotionally processing her first two births while preparing for her third.  She also prepared physically, utilizing Maya Abdominal Massage to help break up any scar tissue, chiropractic care to help promote a good fetal position, and acupuncture near term to ready her body for labor.

Her midwives were totally supportive, but, like many CBAC moms, she had many concerns that something was going to interfere with her much-desired VBAC.  She despaired that she would have another big baby, would go well past her due date, and that as a result, baby's head would be big and not mold-able enough to be born vaginally.

In the end, she had the baby a week past her due date, one with a big head that did not mold, and he was another sizable baby (9 lbs. 13 ounces).  And she still had a VBAC.

And what a beautiful VBAC it was.

Full story can be found here.

More Birth Photos

Here are some more birth photos from Melek's VBA2C (Vaginal Birth After 2 Cesareans).  Keep in mind that some are from a cell phone, and I re-posted the picture from the top of this post to show its context in the birth story (and because it may be one of my all-time favorite birth photos!).  I couldn't get Blogger to rotate the second-to-last photo, but it was too wonderful to omit, so turn your head to the side and enjoy her giant smile of joy anyhow.

in labor

Best VBAC Photo Ever?


snuggling up

beaming with joy

the happy family


crystal_b said...

Those photos are incredible, beautiful, inspiring! Congratulations, Melek! Enjoy that (big!) baby :)

allie said...

so beautiful. congratulations! those photos brought tears to my eyes...

Janie said...

LOVE her face !!!

I wanted to ask you - I have just certified to teach Birth Boot Camp and will be teaching in the North Dallas area starting in February - I'd love to market to plus size moms? Can I advertise with you? and how else would you suggest I get the info out to moms of size?

my email is oyakawa (at) gmail.

Anonymous said...

What lovely photos. What an inspiring story.

On a reread, I noticed the cute progression of expressions on the baby's face:

*wallow wallow mmmmph*
*not comfortable, Mom*
*schmeck schmeck, smack lips, milkface*
*mmmmm hand*
*boobie powers ACTIVATE*

Classic! And adorable!

Jenny Islander

Melek said...

Thank you for posting my story!!

I wanted to clarify the "broken" thing, since I know that did ruffle feathers in some other places on the net. Firstly, I agree with you that every woman's story is unique and valid, and that however she feels about her birth should be honored.

I personally never felt broken. I was told by my first care provider that my pelvis was too small and I could not have a vaginal delivery. HE thought I was broken. After my CBAC, it would have been easy for me to allow my spirit to be broken. When I say (and my tattoo reads), "I am never broken," I mean, I never believed that about myself. I never bought in to that line of thinking. I always knew I was capable if I were just given a chance and I was blessed to find providers who gave me that chance--twice.

Thank you again for featuring my story!