Birth Story of the Week comes from Jessica who is sharing her wonderful VBAC story! Thank you Jessica!
“I delivered my first son Adam by C-section here in Tunisia where I live and work, though I’m originally from the UK. He was frank breech but I found a lovely French lady doctor who I felt happy with. I must, ashamedly, admit to having felt some relief during the pregnancy that I wouldn’t have to face a natural birth, especially considering the huge differences between medical care here and back home. However afterwards I felt I’d missed out in some way and was so drugged up when I first held my son I didn’t really enjoy the moment the way I knew I could.
When I learned I was pregnant with my second son Ilyes the old birth fear set in but I decided to get prepared. I found TCBS book online and asked my mum to post it along with a lovely big pink birth ball. I loved the book and started my re-education about everything ‘birth’ at about 5 months. I downloaded the relaxation and Powerball mp3s and watched the free vids from Suzy.
I made an effort to relax everyday and practice my breathing so at 40wks I was well and truly raring to go! My doctor told me to visit the hospital at that point and check the baby’s heartbeat. Whilst there I requested a sweep from the midwife to get the ball rolling as induction wasn’t an option due to my previous C-section, I was told that if I hadn’t delivered naturally by the end of the week it would be another C-section. Adding to that my doctor had to go to France for 3 days! However she left me in the care of her husband, also a gynaecologist with experience in VBACs who had spent time working in Europe.
So at 40+3 after another sweep, and a 3km walk, I suggested to my hubby he help me move things along so we went to bed that afternoon and sure enough his prostaglandins certainly did help!
I had the faintest cramps directly underneath my C-section scar at 5pm and after a few good walks around the block and a soft boiled egg with cumin (a local tip to bring on contractions) I was having stronger surges. I remember very distinctly feeling nausea at the sight of my dinner whilst sitting on my birth ball and knew if I couldn’t eat Lasagne something was definitely going on! It was odd because of being such a new experience I kept doubting if it was really happening and if I was feeling real surges or not.
Anyhow I was totally calm and without fear and me and my husband went to the hospital at 9:30pm where I was admitted at 3cm dilated, I was so excited it was happening and got comfortable in my room turning the lights down low, getting changed and sitting on the birth ball. I called my mum and dad though I couldn’t talk through surges.
I was offered an epidural immediately and refused as everything was totally manageable .In Tunisia health care is private so they want to give you as many drugs as possible. I never wrote a birth plan as most of the things I wanted are unavailable here (home birth, birth pool etc) however I’d intended to resist an epidural if possible.
I was asked if I wanted an injection to help open my cervix which they assured me wouldn’t make me numb or dizzy so I accepted and things progressed well. Probably the most surreal part of the experience was when my waters released, I was lying on the bed and suddenly at the peak of a surge I felt a pop from inside followed by a flood of water. I was amazed at how much there was and apologised to the nurses as they had to change all the bedding. I was calm and talkative during the labour and only made low groans during the surges which seemed to come out naturally as if verbally connected to the physical process.
Shortly after the midwives told my mother-in-law and husband, who had been with me throughout, to get the baby’s clothes ready as we were moving downstairs to the delivery room. On the way there I clearly remember the sensations changing and having the urge to push, I was so amazed by my body and how it handled everything so beautifully and naturally. Once we got there I moved onto the bed and the doctor came in, my husband was still by my side, though he was told he had to leave just before birth (standard procedure here), and I was instructed to hold onto the bottom of the bed, close my mouth and breathe through my nose to bear down.
I can honestly say I don’t remember feeling much during the pushing, the surges had been much more intense than the last stage.
So there I was at about 2am with everything going and my husband told me the doctor said he could see the baby’s hair, that’s the last thing I remember before they gave me full anaesthesia and I was out cold! When I came around the room was empty and my mother in law was at my bedside and told me congratulations, you can imagine how confused and shocked I was – it was so strange. I asked her if I was dreaming and she laughed along with one of the midwives. They told me Ilyes was fine and even dressed and they were taking me back to my room! I later learned that I had had an episiotomy(I was already stitched up when I came around from the anaesthesia) as well as a vacuum assisted delivery and it’s standard practice here to give full anaesthesia when the baby’s head comes out as opposed to a local. I could have been really annoyed about it but I was so elated that I had done it (up until the last push at least) and my baby boy, who they put next to me on the bed as they wheeled me to my room, was beautiful and healthy.
My overall experience was wonderful and nothing like I’d been brainwashed to expect previously to discovering TCBS and doing my own research about the hormones of birth as well as the practices of other cultures during childbirth ( I learned Amish women go to the kitchen to bake bread when they start to feel surges, inspiring!). For the first time in my life I can say without hesitation I’m so proud of myself and the efforts I made to achieve my goal, I would love to do it all again!
My son Ilyes is also the calmest and happiest baby I could wish for and I always say to people that it’s due to the fact his birth was calm.
Thank you to Suzy, TCBS and all the members of the FB group who offered their stories and encouragement. and to all the beautiful mothers waiting for their guess dates, trust in your baby, your amazing body and believe in yourselves!”
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