At 2:28 AM, an adorable, pink, healthy baby boy was born. We waited to weigh him of course, until he was about two hours old, as we figured he would weigh approximately the same as what he weighed when he was born, and we don’t cut the cord for at least an hour after a baby is born, and don’t think getting the weight is nearly as important as letting the baby have TIME with its’ mother and family for the first hours after arriving here. This birth was a lovely, calm, beautiful, powerful, wonderful home birth after two previous cesareans.
Each home birth is precious and delightful in its own way, but VBAC births, well, they are especially special. The victory/triumph on the look of each woman’s face as she realizes that her body works! that she isn’t going to be cut this time! that her body is normal! that she doesn’t have to recover from major surgery! is worth a million dollars and then some. This was not the first VBAC home birth at which the woman pronounces that “Next time I think I will stay in the water!” or “Next birth, I am going to ask my mother to come!” – before the baby is even seconds old. The experience, so new, so fresh – sits inside her heart and psyche so positively, that she wants to repeat it. Many of these women were dreading this delivery, didn’t think they would ever have any other children again because the cesarean delivery itself was so traumatic. Melissa, who’d had a miserable cesarean the first time around, and who had a total of eight hours of labor from start to finish with her VBAC, looked at her husband and announced, “Honey, when we have the next baby, l want to have it in the living room near the fireplace. ” Her husband, who had called me months earlier to talk about his wife’s severe depression after the cesarean, and then another bout when she’d found out she was pregnant – because she thought she faced another cesarean – responded, “That’s a possibility, Mel — but do you think you could finish having THIS baby first?” The baby was barely born to the chest when she was talking about the next time – she was so joy-filled, and excited about this labor and birth and baby and had no postpartum depression whatsoever this time around. (That, by the way, is a topic for another day – the fact that none of my home birthing VBAC mothers seem to have any depression whatsoever after the birth.)
I met H and her husband when they drove a fair distance to see me when at the very end of the 8th month of pregnancy. It was clear immediately that she was someone who, if she wasn’t on the ball and very careful, would quite likely be sectioned a third time. H is small in stature, had had the two previous two cesareans, had never dilated at all before – and – ended up being eight days past her “guess date” this time. Beginning when she was 39 weeks, the doctors she’d been seeing (in case she needed back up) kept calling her house and telling her to come in and have an ultrasound – most likely, so they could find a reason to make her THINK something was wrong and drag her in to the hospital for either more tests or another section. Before she was even 41 weeks, they began talking to her about how dangerous it was for her to be pregnant anymore, and told her that after 42 weeks, they would absolutely refuse to allow (don’t you just love that word, “allow” ?) her to go into labor and birth normally.
H stopped answering their calls. We talked twice a day every day and I reassured her that she WOULD go into labor, that she would NOT be pregnant forever, and that she would have a really cute baby. I also told her that it made NO SENSE WHATSOEVER to talk to a woman about 42 weeks when she was 41 – that most likely she would birth that week – and that frightening someone when they are supposed to relax their bodies is a huge no-no. At one point, during the last appointment, her doctor said to her “Look at me!” and when she did, he said to her, quite emphatically, “It appears as if you are not getting my message!”
Ya, well who wants to get messages about uterine rupture and dead babies?
I told her that if her uterus was intact at forty weeks, it had most likely proven its integrity and not to worry. And to remember BCO – babies come out.
She had her baby two hours after I walked through the door. Her active labor was about four hours. This was the fourth woman in a row who had had two cesareans and who had short labors, despite the fact that they were all scheduled for repeat cesareans because, according to each of their obstetricians, it would be dangerous to go into labor and that their bodies wouldn’t work properly. One woman had her baby so fast that I missed the birth – she hesitated to call me when she went into labor, thinking that things would go slowly, as they did with her other – my midwifery assistant arrived and entered the bedroom as the head was crowning. B and her husband had interviewed me on Thursday night and hired me on Friday night and then the birth took place the very next day – on Saturday afternoon, several days after her guess date. She’d had an ultrasound that had said that there was not enough amniotic fluid and the baby was too small. Give me a break, guys. B is less than five feet tall and weighs ninety five pounds dripping wet. Her husband is a wonderful, short and slim man – about five feet six. The fluid was perfect – I know that because I palpated her belly when I saw her on Friday night – and the fluid felt perfect. I asked her if anyone had either touched her belly to get a sense for fluid volume – of course not – and whether, when they were concerned about fluid, if they had given her any suggestions for increasing it, or any nutritional counseling that would help.
You know the answer to that one, too.
Dawn had a ten pound four ounce baby with me after two previous cesareans. Emily had a practice run – we drove to her house, two hours away, and drove back home again. Then, three days later, we went back again. This time she was in active labor and she birthed her third baby, first normal birth, in her home. Lisa had a very intense but productive labor and had her HBA2C just four or five hours after we arrived. Barbara, another small woman, had a nine pound four ounce home born VBA2C baby just a few hours after we arrived as well. I have the beautiful quilt that she made for me announcing her son’s birth to prove it. Miriam did not birth her third baby vaginally, but had a home birth with her 4th baby -HBA3C – hooray.
And of course, the most important thing is PREVENTING CESAREANS IN THE FIRST PLACE, so that we don’t have to be discussing VBAC after ANY number of sections.