After a harrowing and miraculous pregnancy and birth with our triplets, one of whom passed away about 15 minutes after being born due to complications from Trisomy 13, I was blessed with a ‘quiet’ pregnancy with Miss M. My only complication this time was gestational diabetes, but with help, I was able to manage it well.
For the birth of our multiples, I was not given a choice of delivery—it was an emergency C-section brought on by preeclampsia, my health and that of our Trisomy 13 superstar baby boy was going down. Our doctors and nurses did a fantastic job with the surgery and the NICU teams swooped in and took great care of our surviving twin boy and girl. I won’t go much more in our first pregnancy/delivery except to say that I did not have much control over most of it, pretty much had to throw my ‘birth plan’ out the window, and deal with a wide range of emotions and reality before, during, and after the delivery.
Having the caesarean and the twins taken quickly away to the NICU, while holding our departed child, left me with a sense of accomplishment by what happened that the doctors said probably wouldn’t, but also a sense of sorrow and lack of feeling like a mother. I didn’t experience any part of labor, barely saw a surviving baby before both were taken to the NICU, held a departed one, and could only pump my breast milk---didn't get to hold my babies till a week later. I decided during and after that experience that if I was to ever become pregnant again, I wanted to go for a VBAC.
When I became pregnant 7 months after our triplets were born, I started my research on VBACs. Due to my husband being deployed toward the end of the 2nd pregnancy, we had to move a few months in my first and second trimesters to travel with him for his pre-deployment trainings. For the third trimester, birth, and 3 months after, he would be deployed. But, he was supportive of whatever birth path I wanted to choose as long as Miss M and I would be safe. Our twins and I went to live with my parents and I had to find a new team of obstetricians that would take this high-risk momma on, especially one that wanted to do a VBAC.
I found such a group when I was about 22-24 weeks. Because my surgery went well, healing went well, I did my research, understood the risks of the VBAC and Miss M’s development was going wonderfully, they felt comfortable going ahead with the VBAC. With the triplets, I delivered at 29 weeks to the day, with Miss M I delivered at 41 weeks and 1 day. After my membranes were stripped that morning, I went into labor around midnight and delivered Miss M via VBAC five (5) hours later. Though I wanted to try natural labor, I was told that with VBACs a precautionary epidural line had to be put in along with a small dose to test the line, in the case the surgical site ruptured and they would need to rush me in for an emergency C-section. Thus, I would be numbed just the slightest. However, they did not have to continue with the epidural drug if I did not want to. After feeling the strong contractions, arriving at the hospital 90% effaced and 6 cm dilated, I ultimately chose to receive the full dose of the epidural. I am glad I left that option open because I was able to be of more sound mind and able to talk to my husband during the whole ordeal while we were communicating through our video phones. Miss M also decided to push her shoulder and arm out along with her head when she popped out, so another reason why I’m glad I had the epidural!
So from this second delivery I was able to experience labor pains, vaginal birth, holding my living baby right after birth, and nursing her within the hour. The only thing I wished I requested or hadn't forgot, was to request and use a delivery mirror so I could watch the miracle of birth! It was a completely different experience than my first delivery, both of which I would never trade for anything. I learned that although birth plans are nice to have, it is wise to be flexible, prepared to ‘go with the flow’ for situations unseen and willing to accept we cannot be in total control of this process of bringing a little person into the world.
If one wants a VBAC, look for those professionals who are willing to offer it and stay educated. And again, be willing to be flexible if the parameters to do a VBAC do not work out in the end to do one. I did learn that it is more risky to do cesarean after cesarean, and obviously limits one to 3, maybe 4 births/children. And in a very litigious society, many doctors are squeamish about tackling a VBAC. But, if a woman shows, as I did, that I understood the risks and was confident with my decision, willing to go forward with the C-section if in the end, our lives and health were in peril, then I think the medical professional would be willing to perform the VBAC.
These two pregnancies and deliveries have given me a wealth of experiences that I can pass on to others and will cherish for the rest of my life; such as infertility, adoption (we were also in the process of, but didn’t complete), being advised to terminate (which we didn't,) genetic disorders, complete health/no health issues for baby, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, ‘older mom’, major weight gain, multiples pregnancy, singlet pregnancy, c-section delivery, vaginal/VBAC delivery, death of a child, miraculous life of a child, 4-day hospital stay with prior hospitalization, 24 hour hospital stay, NICU life, home with baby within 24 hours, spinal tap, epidural, almost natural childbirth, pumping, formula supplement, nursing, and so much more! I wish you well in this awesome adventure called Motherhood!"