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Success with the hallowed VBAC

Sarah_withmonroe_afterbirth_200 Many of you commented on my post about pregnant grumpiness, and to my personal blog, telling me to go for it! and try for the Hallowed VBAC. I've had two c-sections with my two boys, under vastly different circumstances, that ended the same way: labor (with pitocin) to complete, push for two hours, baby's head never moves much past "0", time to give up. Because I'd struggled so to VBAC with Truman, my second, my OB was doubtful I'd have much luck this third birth. Both boys were 7 pounds, 7 ounces (not big), and Truman was born at 37 weeks, so a full-term babe might be near-impossible to fit.

As they were both tilted a bit, the diagnosis seemed to be that my birth cavity wasn't shaped quite right, or my pelvis was a touch too small. I'd tried going without drugs entirely with Truman so I could push in every imaginable position; I had yoga and doulas and considerable mental preparation. Although a few of my friends and family believed -- hoped -- prayed I'd be able to VBAC with baby #3, even I doubted it.

Dr. Kehoe gave me a "less-than-30%" chance of success. After much introspection, I decided that, heck, a 10% or 20% chance is still a reasonable chance, and convinced her to support me in trying.

But the day I went into labor Dr. Kehoe was off, and her younger partner showed up around 4 p.m. on July 9th with her mouth set. The risks of laboring -- with the chance of a uterine rupture, or trauma to the baby, or to me -- seemed too great. When she saw me at 4 cm, she wanted to have me in the operating room by dinner time. Somehow, I talked her onto the VBAC team (by calmly listing my reasons for wanting to try, and begging, a little).

Drwilliams_delivering_300 And what do you know. Though I progressed slowly at first, by 11 p.m., I was at complete at the baby was at +1. Plus one? I couldn't believe it. 40 minutes later, Monroe was born, it was a textbook delivery. And he was, unbelievably, 7 pounds, 7 ounces. The whole story is here.

I am, to put it mildly, very. very. happy.

Monroe_inblanket_200 Who's to know for sure, but I think it was the lack of pitocin, my somehow-developed patience for my body to go into labor on its own (the hardest part, patience), and probably no small help from the prayers and hopes and belief of my friends and family. So if you're trying for a VBAC, even after two surgeries? Tell your doctor it can be done. And turn off that pitocin, just in case!


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CONGRATULATIONS!!! That's wonderful!!! reading your words put a big smile on my face. I love that you listened to your instincts and insisted. Nicely done!

And, gorgeous baby!

I was laughing (reading your webpage) about the cooking...My little one is now a month old, and I was cooking loads of spaghetti sauce as my water was slowly leaking (started at the grocery store). I felt the same way you did, strangely and strongly drawn to the kitchen to cook up last minute stores. I did laugh while I was doing it though, realizing it was a tad crazy. But when I finally got to eat the sauce, it was worth it. Think it was my best batch to date, actually...

Congratulations! What a wonderful story. I am so glad it worked out this way for you. Good for you for going for it!!

Ahhhhh, congratulations! How empowering for you...and just look at that beautiful baby. I'm so happy for you Sarah.

So wonderful and such a happy success story. The joy of it all brings tears to my eyes. I love how quickly it happened. The photo of Monroe in his blanket is so, so sweet.

congratulations! i've read your blog off and on for awhile. i just had my 3rd boy in May...we all thought it would be a girl, too. welcome to the land of "my three sons!"

Hooray! What lovely news to start the day with, and every congratulation, mama!

Congratulations!!! BTW I agree with the 'no pitocin', I'm a big believer in waiting for your body to do what comes naturally. I had to wait 13 and 9 days past my due dates but my labors ended up being awesome because I waited. The patience required for the wait is nothing compared to the patience needed with raising children.


Congrats to you! What a wonderful and inspiring story to share and what a beautiful baby! Blessings to you and family.

Tony, Jennifer, Mila, and Gael

Thank you for posting your story. I'm trying for a VBAC with my second and your story gives me hope!

Congratulations! Your baby boy is beautiful. I have been reading your blog for some time now and was anxious to hear how the birth went. I am so happy for you that it worked out the way you wanted.

I read your story earlier today and sent it to a friend who is hoping for a VBAC this winter. I am in absolute awe of you, Sarah. I *can* believe it.

Dear Sarah,
You go mama! What a wonderful achievement and discovery process. Each birth teaches us about our powers as a woman, but there is always something very special and delicious about discovering yourself against the odds.

You look so radiant and strong in your photos.

Thank you also for sharing your story and giving courage to other women who may also desire a VBAC. If you don't mind, we'd like to share the link with our doula community so that other families might be buoyed by your encouraging words...

With many blessings,

Jesse Remer Henderson, CD, LCCE
Mother Tree (DONA) Certified Birth Doula
Lamaze Childbirth Educator
Mother Tree LLC, Founder
Portland Family Time Bank, Founder-Coordinator
MomsRising.org Organizer!

What an amazing birth story; and thank you for sharing. Monroe is such a beautiful baby, it makes me want to have a third!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I read your complete story and sobbed! I, too, have had two c-sections (boys, of course!) and had never even considered a VBAC for my third but now...the dream seems like it maybe could become a reality.

Congratulations on your little one -- and achieving your goal. Good for y'all.

Congratulations, Sarah.

I followed the blog closely as I was very curious to see how your pregnancy would climax (so to say!). Your story is simply mine to a T. With my first I broke my water at 39 5/7 weeks and was started on pitocin. Pushed for 2 hours and baby "stuck" at 0 station. Ended in C section for a 7 pound 11 oz baby. Reason for C section was noted as "Arrest of Descent". Second pregnancy less than 2 years later, I simply had the C section, being given a < 20% chance of vaginal delivery.

I am VERY curious as to how often induced labors end in "arrest of descent"/C section AND how what proportion of planned C sections may be from this....I am planning a literature review. But in an attempt to collect some anecdotal evidence....

Anyone out their with similiar stories?

In response to Rebecca's comment, I have several friends that have been induced early (or went into labor naturally but were given Pitocin) and all but one ended in a c-section.

I was induced and had a natural delivery with my first and also have several friends who were induced and delivered vaginally, both with and without epidurals. It's only my perception, but it seems that more interventions tend to lead to more c-sections? I've also heard stories of epidurals slowing labor down enough to eventually "require" a c-section. I'll be delivering my 2nd in a hospital setting within the next few weeks, but it does seem also that in hospitals, if you dont progress according to their timetable, you're more likely to end up having a c-section too?

My good friend and I gave birth within 3 days of eachother at the same hospital almost 2 years ago. We both had Pitocin and an epidural. We both had HELLP syndrome (uncanny coincidence). She delivered her daughter vaginally and I had a c-section after dialating to 9.5 cm. So...we're a 50/50 split given essentially the same circumstances. It would be interesting to read a literature review/meta-analysis of these cases to know if there are truly significant trends. I'm due with my second in November, planning for a VBAC, so we'll see how things go this time around.

Sarah, Monroe is so beautiful! Thank you for this wonderfully empowering and hopeful story. Welcome to life with 3 boys. Patrice

Replying to Leah, I had misoprostil (sp?) at noon, dilated only to 1/2c, and by 6pm I was in the throes of horrendous contractions, one on top of the other, and when the nurse checked me, I was at 1c. I opted for the epidural at that point because I hated life and resented the labor. I couldn't go on another minute, let alone another several hours, and I did not want pitosin. Well, after the blessed epidural, not only was my time more relaxed and pleasant, I also, amazingly, progressed to 10c by 11:30pm, no other intervention. Everyone was shocked. They said, hey, go ahead and push if you want, and I shrugged, say ok, and pushed with all my might for 25 minutes and had my baby. My doctor and doula believed that the stress of my contractions was actually probably keeping me from dilating any further, and when I got the epidural, the relaxation was enough to get my dilation to kick in. So I think it can go either way. I am just so happy I didn't end up with pitosin, but in retrospect, I wish I hadn't let them give me miso so early...my water had broken at 6:30am, and they pushed for it by noon since there were no contraction, saying it was because I was GBS+, but since they gave me antibiotics, I don't believe now that it was totally necessary to not let nature take it's own course.

Congratulations! I'm trying for a VBAC (I'm due 8/24) @ OHSU. My OB said she would "strip my membranes" end of this week. She will not give me pitocin because of the previous C-Section, for this I am glad. But I really, really want this VBAC. Does anyone have advice about stripping membranes?

Congratulations Sarah. I will listen to your advice on "patience" too!
BTW - we met at lunch last week and I'm really interested in your Wrap - you said you were taking orders, and I'd love one. How do I order??

My due date is 3/13/09. I am scheduled for a c-section on 3/9/09. What advice can you give regarding having a v-bac? This will be my second child. The first one will be 22 months old when I have the second one. I had the a c-section because of failure to progress. My doctor left the decision up to me.
Please advice.

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading.

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