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The VBAC Link
56 minutes | 5 days ago
152 Liz's Surprise HBAC + Emotional Release
Can crying really help solve prodromal labor? Is it possible that an emotional release can suddenly turn manageable contractions into full-blown pushing? YES! Listen to our friend, Liz, share her incredible surprise HBAC story that will reinforce your confidence in the power of a woman’s ability to birth. Liz was prepared to birth at the hospital without her husband due to COVID restrictions, but her baby had other plans. She says, “I got to have my baby in this completely natural way that I didn’t even realize how much I needed. I went from having a birth where I had literally zero control, zero-knowledge, and everyone else telling me what to do, and then a birth where I caught my own baby, suction bulbed him, and walked out carrying him while he was still attached to me. It’s so incredibly empowering.” We also discuss specific ways to find fears within yourself and how to release them. There truly is physical power in just letting go. Additional links How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents The VBAC Link Blog: How to Turn Prodromal Labor into Active Labor VBAC Without Fear: Five Minute Fear Release Video Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel Episode sponsor This episode is sponsored by our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents, that you can find at thevbaclink.com. It is the most comprehensive VBAC preparation course in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced, video course. Together, Meagan and Julie have helped over 800 parents get the birth that they wanted and they are ready to help you too. Head on over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today. Full transcript Note: All transcripts are edited to eliminate false starts and filler words. Julie: Happy Wednesday, women of strength. We are really excited for our story today, as usual. I don’t think we’re ever not excited about anything, really. But today we have a really cool story. We just love our friend, Liz. Her story is really, really exciting because it was an unplanned, unassisted home birth after Cesarean and I’m dying to hear all of the details of this story. Liz is from Houston, Texas and she is the mother of two boys. Her youngest boy’s name is the same as my oldest boy’s name. I thought that was really, really cool. They have a dog and she’s a Montessori teacher. What is that like right now? Liz: Oh my god, to add more stress to the situation, right? We are still doing it virtually right now and it’s pretty wild because, in Montessori, you’re teaching three different levels. Not only are you teaching three different levels, but then every individual child has their own path that they’re on. And trying to do that via Zoom-- it keeps you on your toes. But thank God I’ve been doing it for a while. It’s a good challenge. It’s keeping me busy. Review of the week Julie: Oh my goodness. Well, we can’t wait to hear your story, but before we get into it, I am going to read the review of the week. The review of the week this time is from Jill Dash. It’s actually a Google review. If you didn’t know, you can find us on Google. Just search for The VBAC Link and our business will pop up on the right side. You can click there and leave a review for us if you do not have Apple Podcasts. Or if you do, that would be awesome too. Jill Dash on Google says, “I started listening to the VBAC Link about four weeks before my due date, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing I couldn't have a doula at my birth or attend in-person birth classes, I was desperate for as much knowledge as I could gain from the internet. I listened to The VBAC Link on my nightly walks as I prepared for my own birth and was so inspired, encouraged, and comforted by hearing everyone's stories. I love how supportive Julie and Meagan are of their guests and of everyone's stories. There is so much to learn from this podcast! Thank you for existing.” Oh, my gosh. Jill Dash, thank YOU for existing. Thank you so much for writing this Google review. I know we probably say it all the time, but when we get reviews— Monday, we get our podcast reviews, all of them in our inbox. Whenever you leave a review on Google, it pops up at that time you leave it in our notifications. It really does bring a smile to our faces. I know it has turned my day around more than once for sure. It makes the harder things about running a business like this a little bit more bearable when we get those really awesome reviews. So thanks again Jill Dash and everyone else who has left a review. If you haven’t already, go ahead to Apple Podcasts, Google or even head over on Facebook and leave us a rating. Let us know how The VBAC Link is helping you on your birth journey or as a birth worker. Episode sponsor Julie: Do you want a VBAC but don’t know where to start? It’s easy to feel like we need to figure it all out on our own. That’s what we used to do and it was the loneliest and most ineffective thing we have ever done. That’s why Meagan and I created our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents, that you can find at thevbaclink.com. It is the most comprehensive VBAC preparation course in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced, video course. Together, Meagan and I have helped over 800 parents get the birth that they wanted and we are ready to help you too. Head on over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today. That’s thevbaclink.com. See you there. Liz’s story Julie: Alright. Well, you guys. I don’t even know enough details about this story to even start telling the story for her. I guess that’s a good thing, but I’m going to turn it over to Liz to start sharing her story with us. I am going to be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to hear the details of this really exciting story. So go ahead and take it away. Liz: Cool. I think it’s important to tell the highlights of the birth of my first son first. My older son is almost exactly two years older than my son who was just born. They’re two years and six days apart. With my older son, first, off he was “late”, which, as someone who’s been through pregnancy and birth twice now understanding that that’s no big deal, but when you’re in your first pregnancy, it can seem like the longest amount of time ever. I had an OB who seemed to be pretty pro-natural birth and then throughout the time of my pregnancy, it became more clear that she was not as supportive of that and letting things run its natural course as I was hoping. I had found a doula who I think was really not much of a doula. She was a wonderful massage therapist but when it came to knowing me, having a relationship with me, giving me advice on anything, I didn’t really have that. Meagan: This sounds like Julie‘s first doula. Liz: Yeah? Julie: My husband calls her the most expensive foot rub I’ve ever had because she rubbed my feet for an hour in labor. I mean, she was great. She’s a nice person. She’s not a doula anymore. I think I was her last birth so she might have been like, “I’m out of here,” after that. Liz: It’s funny that you say that. I feel like this was kind of the end of the run as well. I’ll get more into it as I talk about my experience with my second son, but it’s one of those things that if you don’t have frame of reference, you’re like, “Well, I guess this is how it works,” if you don’t have a lot of other people that you can go and talk to. She had a lot of boundaries around being a doula in that I was only to see her one time and if my labor went over a certain amount of time then that would cost exponentially more. There was a lot of stress going on. Oh gosh, this was the other thing. It would cost more for her to come to my house first and labor with me at home and then go to the hospital with me as well, which was a pretty weird thing considering the fact that we lived down the street from each other. Meagan: I was going to say, was she in another super far away city? What? Liz: No. We’re literally in the same neighborhood and we live in the medical district. With that all being said, I didn’t have a lot of guidance. With my first son, I experienced a lot of— what I came to have found out as prodromal labor. Laboring at night, going through the whole process of contractions that feel very legitimate and have patterns, but then waking up in the morning and your body just going, “Well, it’s time to go back to work, right?” and slowing down again. That went on for a while until I went into what seemed like full-on labor. I’m texting my doula. She texted me back. We are talking about it and then get to the “five minutes for an hour” situation. I go to the hospital and I am not even near ready to be even admitted. I don’t even think I was 2 centimeters. They sent me back home and they said, “Don’t even come until you are two minutes apart because you’re so close. You’re going to have lots of time.” That was really good advice. Hours went by. They got closer. I’ll get into it more when I’m talking about my second birth, but these were totally manageable contractions. Were they contractions? Sure. Was I needing to moan through them or bend over? Not even close. I think that that’s notable. Meagan: Did your doula give you any advice? Like, “Yeah, I think it’s time to go,” or “Actually, I think it would be beneficial to do this, this, and this and then reassess,” or anything like that? Liz: No. She was very hard to get a hold of and you’ll understand why in a minute. It was just like, “Okay, we’ll go if you want to.” I go back and I am barely a 3 when they admit me. Once I get admitted, I text her and I’m like, “Hey I’m here. Ready for you when you’re ready to come.” And then she decides that now is the time to tell me that she’s in another birth. Meagan: Okay, so not being totally honest along the way. Liz: Right. With anyone, I try to consider that they’re coming from a good place, so she was probably trying to not upset me. Meagan: Yeah, I could see that. But at the same time, being honest is good. Liz: 100%. So the deal was, if this were to happen because this happens all the time as y’all know as people who work in the birth industry, you’d have backups, right? But instead of a backup doula, she sent one of her massage therapists which was awesome and felt nice, but this person didn’t have a lot of experience when it came to birth stuff. I am actually backing up and remembering that I went into labor the day that they were going to induce me because I was “late”. We get to the hospital. Of course, all the checking in, everything, labor stalls like it totally does all the time. This is when I found out that my OB was really not on board because she goes, “We were already going to induce you today, so we might as well just start some Pitocin.” Julie: What?! Liz: “We might as well start some Pitocin because you’re not in full labor.” She then decides to tell me that she has to leave soon-- you guys are going to love this-- because she had to get her windshield of her car repaired. Julie: Okay. Do you know what? I guess nothing because I am at a loss for words. I thought I had words, but I just don’t have words. That makes my skin crawl. It just makes all doulas look bad. Liz: No, this is the OB, not the doula. Julie: Oh shoot, okay. Meagan: It’s just unique. This is the frustrating thing. Obviously, doulas and providers are all different, but this just happened the other day with a client of mine. I was going to her birth. She called her provider. Her provider’s phone went right to voicemail and was like, “Here, call this person. I am out of town.” She was like, “I literally saw this person yesterday and she said nothing about this.” I don’t know why, but that frustrated me so much because as a doula, a provider, and a person on call-- I’ll just say, it’s hard to be on call, but at the same time it’s really important if you’re going to have that profession. It’s important to take it seriously. Be honest and open, not just not show up. Do you know what I mean? It’s just frustrating. Liz: I think their thing is that when you’ve worked in a profession especially like healthcare for so long, you don’t even realize that it’s the other person‘s first experience with it. So you’re like, “Yeah well, I’m going on vacation because whatever”. Not excusing this, but more just understanding that this happened a lot to me. With nurses, even just the way people would talk about your birth and your experiences. It’s so new, fresh, and terrifying to you in so many ways and you’re not even on their radar. Meagan: You’re like, “Listen this is my first time. These things are scary. I’ve never done this. It’s all new. Please talk in a gentle way.” Liz: Right, totally. I did not know and this is not my bad, but just a new experience. I didn’t do all this research on all of these other things because it never occurred to me that they would happen. I never researched Pitocin and what that would do because I was like, “Oh, well I’m just going to have a natural birth with this doula and everything‘s going to be fine.” Which, yeah. Pitocin kicks in and it’s terrible. The IV popped out of my vein and infiltrated my arm. I had all of the liquid going through my arm instead of into my vein. Meagan: Were you just puffing up? Liz: It was terribly painful. It made the contractions look like nothing. Everything goes terribly. I’m done. I’ve been in labor for a good amount of time now, probably 12 to 15 hours or something. Doula finally shows up and I’m at my peak. I’m already on Pitocin. I’ve already had this infiltration. Oh, and my OB told me that I only had a 40% chance of giving birth naturally because my son hadn’t dropped yet. There was so much stuff thrown at me. Meagan: What?! Because he hadn’t dropped yet? You weren’t even… Liz: Yeah, it was bad. She got there and I was like, “I’m done. I’m done. I want an epidural. I’ve hit my peak.” Anyhow, long story short, I had my son in the most common, over-told story like, “Goes into distress because that’s what happens all the time when this set of interventions gets thrown into play” and ended up with an emergency C-section which I never prepared for. I don’t think I was too emotionally broken by it because, at the end of the day, I just wanted everyone to be safe. He was there and it was wonderful, but I didn’t realize how painful a C-section is and I didn’t realize how completely unable I would be to walk and do things. Notably, my husband was in a cast in his right arm at the time. I just did not have the support that I needed. So that’s that story. Kid was fine. Everything was fine, but it was very “meh” at the end of the day. Meagan: Man, I am sorry that you had frustrating things like that. That’s just so hard. Liz: I am grateful that everyone was okay. I’m grateful that— I don’t know. I mean, I could sit here forever and talk about how terrible and horrible it was. And it was. There were traumatic moments of it. And those-- I didn’t even realize I was so upset by it until I got very close to having the birth of my second son. But what I can say, is that what was more important, is you should research every kind of possible situation that could happen to you and birth because so often, things could go in all of these different ways. I just wasn’t prepared and I didn’t have the support. I didn’t have anyone on my side. My dear husband just wants me to not be in pain, right? So he’s going to do anything I say. Meagan: Right, yeah. This is something that we talk about on the podcast all the time because we share stories of all types. We share VBAC, CBAC, we share uterine rupture. We really share all types of stories. We have had people write to us and say that it actually upsets them that we share these stories. We talk about it and say that the reason we share these stories is because we want to prepare you in all the ways. So no, you don’t have to listen to this story at all, but it’s important because we also felt like we were there too. We didn’t plan on having a C-section. C-section wasn’t even in the midst of what we were imagining. I’m sure Julie didn’t plan on getting preeclampsia. That wasn’t her plan. Julie: I was superwoman when I was pregnant until I wasn’t. Meagan: Right. I also didn’t know the difference between a VBAC supportive versus a VBAC tolerant provider. There are so many things along the way that I think it’s so important that we research because we don’t expect them to happen to us. We hope that these things don’t happen to us, but they can. If we are prepared a little bit mentally-- not like we’re planning on that happening-- but if we’re prepared that it’s a possibility, then it doesn’t hit us like a freight train when it happens if it happens. Liz: Right. It’s all about informed decision making too. You can 100% end up, not even attempting a VBAC, you can just decide, “Oh I want to have another C-section.” But to be able to go through the process of understanding what that means and what consequences, either negative or positive, come from that, it’s a peaceful way of understanding. I think that I was just like, “Oh, well I am young, I am hip. I am just going to have this baby.” There’s so much of motherhood from breastfeeding to discipline to everything. It doesn’t come naturally. You do need to reach out and talk to people and ask for support and learn all of these different ways because that’s how you can make the decision that you can feel okay with and feel at peace with. Meagan: Exactly. I couldn’t agree with that better. Liz: Oh, and the baby came. The end. Y’all want to dive into this crazy story? Meagan: Let’s hear it. Liz: Cool. I think everything about my second kid has been this exciting surprise. The irony being that probably a week before we got pregnant with him, we had just sat down and had this conversation about how we were going to wait another year and it wasn’t the right time right now. Then surprise! There he is. So, a surprise pregnancy. I just kind of assumed, “Well, I had a C-section with the first one so I guess this one will be a C-section too. That’s nice because I can schedule it and I know when he’s coming. It’ll make teaching easier because I can say, ‘Oh this is when I’m going to take off and blah blah blah.’” It never even occurred to me. A few people had mentioned VBAC to me and I was like, “I don’t know.” I feel like I had kind of just given up on that whole idea of having that type of birth because everything just went so wonky with my first kid that it was like, “Well I guess that’s just not in the cards for me.” But I did switch OB’s. The OB that I switched to was actually the woman who ended up doing my C-section for my other child because, as I mentioned earlier, my OB had to leave. So this other doctor swooped in at the last minute when things were actually going awry. My kid was not doing well and she saved his life. In the hour that I spent with her, I felt more connected to this woman than I had in the nine months that I had with my other OB. Julie: That’s when you know you’ve met the right one. Liz: Yeah. She was funny, we were joking around, she was holding my hand and she was just so in tune. I didn’t even know this woman. She randomly just walked in. So I sent her an email. I had to go through an actually kind of silly process to switch OB’s. It wasn’t as simple as saying, “I’d like this one now.” I had to get permission. Anyhow, so I switched to her. I walked in and it was a totally different experience right away. She was the one who was like, “Do you want to try and go for a VBAC? Because you are a perfect candidate. You should do this.” And I was like, “Really?” She said, “Yeah!” Well, I hadn’t really thought about that. So I went home, thought about it for a while, talked to some people and I was like, “Okay sure, yeah. Let’s do this. This doctor seems to think it’s a good idea so why not, right?” I kept going through the pregnancy in a much more calm way thinking, “Okay, at some point I’m going to have to start thinking about this whole VBAC thing.” As we got closer, she started talking about how interventions are to be avoided the best we can to have a successful VBAC and how she wants me to stay on my feet for as long as possible. She wants me to labor at home for as long as possible. She wants me to start working on my squats and all of the stuff and I’m like, “Okay, okay. So no epidural, no Pitocin. That’s good. Okay,” and thinking about it. I was at home and I stubbed my toe. My sweet husband— I was crying, “Oh, my toe hurts.” And my husband was like, “There, there.” And I go, “Oh my god. I have to hire a doula.” Because I realized that this man was not going to be able to support me enough through unmedicated labor. Julie: That’s funny. That’s really funny. Liz: I was like, “Nope. There, there is not going to work for me.” When I call epidural, I’m going to need someone to say, ”No.” So I started researching and then everything started clicking. I was like, “Oh my gosh. I have to have a relationship with this woman. She’s going to see me and my most vulnerable state. I should like her. We should agree on the same things fundamentally.” All these things that just didn’t even occur to me when I was looking for a doula the first time. Then I met this super awesome chick named Jolie. We talked right away and both of us were like, “Oh, this is going to be great.” She had a lot of success with VBACs and I just loved her. Everything was wonderful. We met I think one time, maybe twice, and in one of those first or second meetings she mentioned, she was like, “Hey we are watching this COVID thing.” I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s a thing.” She was like, “Yeah. I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal especially because you are due in May. No big deal. But just so you know.” Meagan: Little did she know… Liz: Little did anyone know! Meagan: I know, right? Liz: She was like, “I’m sure this will all be taken care of, but you should know that in some states they are starting to limit hospital visitors. Just be aware of that.” So after a long discussion, we decided, as things got worse with COVID and especially in Houston. Actually, we didn’t even really get bad until July, but my husband and I decided that it would be better for him to stay home with our older son because I didn’t want someone else coming into our home and for Jolie to go to the hospital with me because I wasn’t going to be able to have both of them. And I was like, “If someone’s going to be with me while I am in labor, I love my husband, but I think I would rather have my doula.” That was the plan. I’m trying to think. I was around 39 weeks and then I started having that prodromal labor again. Laboring patterns through the night every ten minutes, sometimes every eight minutes. It got down to five minutes. Wake up in the morning, nothing. Meagan: Prodromal labor is terrible. We actually wrote a blog about it because a lot of people don’t even know about it. There are things you can do to help, but sometimes it doesn’t even help then. I’m sorry that you’ve had this twice. Liz: It just makes you feel crazy because you’re like, “Okay, this is it. We should start really thinking about it. It’s going to happen tomorrow.” Then you wake up and nothing. But what ended up really happening is that yes there was some prodromal labor, but what was really happening is, it would seem as if it was stopping during the day, but really my contractions were spreading out so much that I wasn’t taking note of them. So I think really I was in labor a lot longer than I thought I was, which is why everything ended up happening the way it did. So it would happen, I labor at night, wake up in the morning, and then it was Mother’s Day. It was Sunday. It was Mother’s Day. Over the night, I was having pretty strong contractions. Jolie had finally said, she goes, “Look. Don’t even text me or call me unless you have to moan through these contractions because at this point you’re just going to drive yourself crazy thinking, ‘Oh this is it. Let me text Jolie. Oh, now it’s not it. You’re going to be disappointed. Relax, and let it happen.’” Oh man, guys. I almost skipped the best part. Whew! That would have been rough. Okay, back up. She came up around Saturday before Mother’s Day and she said, “Can you think of anything emotionally that is keeping you from maybe fully going into labor?” And I was like, “No I think I’m really good. I think I feel really comfortable and confident about all of this.” She was like, “Why don’t you just take a long bath tonight and maybe find a way to let some emotional release happen? Maybe you watch a movie that always makes you cry or listen to a song or something like that.” I went into the bath and when I was in the bath, I started talking to the baby. I was like, “Hey kiddo. It’s time. You’re ready, almost 40 weeks. You can come out now.” And through that conversation I told my husband, I said, “It felt like I was reciting a monologue, this memorized monologue of a character that wasn’t even me because it was so tucked away in my feelings that I didn’t even know I felt this way.” I started talking about how I didn’t know who this baby was and he was just this stranger who was coming in. I was so sad about losing my alone time with my older son and how we had gotten to a place where everything was so good with him. I had such a strong relationship with him and who’s this new kid who’s going to come in and mess this whole thing up? Is my kid going to be mad at me and resent me for having this other child? We finally figured it all out and now we’re going to start this whole process all over again. I just burst into tears in the bath, just crying, crying, crying, crying about it, and then went to sleep and started having pretty regular contractions. I woke up the next morning for Mother’s Day and they kept going so my husband, my son and I had a picnic in the front yard while having contractions. I called my doula and said, “I think I am actually in labor now. I think it’s time to come over.” She goes, “Okay, well, I’m going to take my time.” I was like, “Yeah I’m not worried. We’ve still got time. No big deal.” So she started to head over. I think it took her like an hour, an hour and a half to come over, nothing too big. We were sitting in my son’s playroom and I was building blocks with him and talking with him. I would stop and have a contraction. I would lean over and I would moan through it and then get back to talking with my son. I go, “Oh Jolie, I have to tell you this story. I have to tell you. I think I figured out the emotional thing that was keeping me from going into labor. I told her the story about how I was just so sad about missing time with my kid and then I started crying to her. Literally, right after I finished that story and wiped my last tear, I leaned over and went from having a 45-second contraction every four minutes to having a minute and a half long screaming, so intense contraction. My two-year-old came over to me and put his hand on my back and held my back while I was having the contraction. Then my water broke. It was like I finally let everything go and I said, “Okay, I think my water broke. It’s time to go to the hospital. These are getting closer.” It was like they were starting to speed up. I was like, “Let’s get ready to go. Let’s start packing things.” I tried walking to the bathroom and fell to the ground and was like, “Whoa. Something is different. This is wild.” I was scared. It went from manageable contractions, not great, but I could deal with them to, “I can’t think straight, this is so painful. So I think I made my way to the bathroom after that next contraction. I reached in to feel what was going on and the baby’s head was right there. Jolie was like, “We need to go to the hospital now.” I said, “We are not making it to the hospital.” She was like, “Oh, okay.” So you know, doula. Not a medical professional. She’s like, “We need to call the EMTs. We need to get someone here.” They call them and I had two more contractions and then was crowning after that. Meagan: Oh my gosh! Liz: Yeah. My house was built in 1940 and I have this little tiny half-bath underneath the stairs that’s smaller than Harry Potter‘s bedroom. Jolie is somehow standing in there and my husband is off holding my kiddo who’s like, “Why is mommy screaming?” I start pushing because here’s the thing. This was the labor that I knew existed out there in the world that when you’re ready to push, you have no other choice than to push. You don’t need anyone to tell you, “Hey it’s time to push now.” You know what to do. My husband started repeatedly telling me that he loved me and I very kindly told him to shut the explicit up. Julie: That’s when you know you’re getting close when the F-bombs start dropping. Liz: Yep. I was like, “Don’t you talk to me.” Jolie was rubbing my back. I said, “Get your hands off me. Don’t touch me.” I was on hands and knees. The EMT came in after my son‘s head was out and in, I think it was three pushes, baby came out. I caught him, then the EMT who— gosh bless them but they had no idea what they were doing. They were just so out of their element. They were like, “We are used to car crashes, ma’am. I don’t know what this is.” Oh, at one point he goes, “Ma’am just push.” I said, “Sir, I know that.” Meagan: “Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing. You just sit there.” Liz: “You just be there.” So he takes the baby and I’m like, “Hey can you pass him to me?” He goes, “How?” And I said, “Through my legs.” I suction bulbed him. I rubbed him and Jolie was like, “Holy moly.” I was like, “I know!” We are holding this baby and then it’s like, “Oh my gosh what do we do now?” Because I had no plan to give birth at home. I mean, I had Jolie there but no medical professional. I just got this baby. What are we to do now? And placenta is still in, blah blah blah. So this is where, depending on who you ask-- It is so interesting guys, how many people have opinions on a birth that has nothing to do with them. Julie: Oh my gosh. Say it again because that is so true. I just can’t even. Liz: It’s fascinating. There was a picture that my doula put up of me from this birth that kind of went vaguely viral and I would have people talking about how irresponsible it was of me to have a VBAC at home, and that this was clearly planned by me and my evil witch doula. We were just trying to cheat the system, right? Julie: Oh, girl. I got called a selfish cow on my YouTube video of my home birth. Liz: Isn’t that nice? Julie: Yeah. I think the same girl commented on Meagan’s video that court-mandated Cesareans are a good thing. That’s what she said on Meagan’s video. Meagan: Yeah. She attacked my VBA2C. I swear she told me that I deserved to go to jail because I had my baby at a hospital. Julie: People are just awful. Liz: Yeah. It’s wild. It is wild. So we had that and then on the completely other end of the spectrum-- So I ended up going to the hospital after I had the baby because I want to make sure everything‘s okay. It’s a VBAC. I don’t know if everything is cool with me. I don’t know if everything is cool with the baby. The placenta is still in. I got up and walked myself out of my house carrying my baby still attached to a gurney and that’s where my doula took this picture of me getting on there. I got him breastfeeding. I am lying on this gurney and the sun is bright. It’s Mother’s Day. It’s really cool, right? Then, on the other end of the spectrum, this other person was commenting so much on this picture about how ridiculous it was that I would go to the hospital and how it was that patriarchy that had made me think that I need medical assistance blah blah blah. The point is, is that you can’t win. I am either irresponsible because I had a home birth or irresponsible because I went to the hospital. You know? It’s interesting. Julie: Yeah. I feel you on that one, especially right now. Liz: There’s no good choice. So I went. Everything was fine and it was good I went because I had some tearage that I needed to get taken care of. But the point is, is that I had this accidental, Mother’s Day, COVID-19 home birth. The cool thing was that I didn’t have to pick between my doula or my husband because everyone was there. I got to keep my kid safe. I got to have my baby in this completely natural way that I didn’t even realize how much I needed. I went from having a birth where I had literally zero control and zero-knowledge and everyone else telling me what to do, and then a birth where I caught my own baby, suction bulbed him, and walked out carrying him while he was still attached to me. It’s so incredibly empowering and on Mother’s Day. It was so cool. It was so cool. Meagan: So special. One that you won’t ever forget. That’s for sure. Julie: Okay, I have got to ask though. Is that picture the one you attached to your story? Liz: Yeah. Julie: Okay. So if you want to see the picture, go to our-- Oh my gosh, I love it. I just opened it. Wow. Okay, if you want to see this picture which, trust me you do, go to our Facebook or Instagram pages. Search for The VBAC Link and look for her episode picture because wow. Like, wow. This is a really impactful picture. Liz: It’s pretty cool. Julie: I’m glad you shared it. Meagan, are you looking at it? Meagan: No, I actually had just closed out of my thing so I’m going back in. As soon as you said that I was like, “I am going to find out.” Julie: Well, we are just about out of time but before we wrap up and while Meagan‘s looking at the picture... Meagan: Oh wow! Julie: There you go. There it is. Liz: We joke about how we want to frame it. Meagan: Wow. Wow. I have chills. I have freaking chills. Oh, amazing. Look at your legs and the door, the patio steps. How awesome is that? Liz: I know. Julie: Yep. Oh my gosh. Liz: It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty cool. Yeah, we want to frame it and put it in the bathroom he was born in so we can be like, “This was you.” Julie: The look on your face-- It’s like the stillness and the peace but then clearly you just had a baby because of how your legs are and the patio steps and everything. There’s so much emotion and power in the picture. Liz: Yeah, I love it. It is really good. I am so glad she caught it. I wasn’t even thinking about it. She just clipped it on my phone. When I got to the hospital later, I was looking through my phone and there was that picture. I was like, “Holy moly.” It’s a good one. Emotional release Julie: Well Meagan, do you want to do a really quick review on emotional fear releases? Not even necessarily fear releases but just releasing emotions. Meagan: Yeah. You experienced talking about these things. You said, “It was like I didn’t even know. I said it and it changed everything.” Sometimes we don’t think. Like you said, “No I’m fine. I’m good. I feel good about this.” But sometimes there are other things. I had an experience with a client of mine who’s actually on the podcast as well. She is a VBA2C mom. She had started a podcast for stories of C-section birth. She’s had two of them. She feels inspired that C-section moms need to be able to share stories as well. Anyways, so she’s in labor, her water breaks and nothing happens. The next day, nothing happens. The next day, nothing happens. I mean, she’s contracting on and off, here and there. It’s been three days with her water broken. She’s being monitored very closely by a skilled professional midwife and she even did dual care in a hospital. Everything was going great. The weird thing is she would start contracting, start contracting, start contracting, and then it would stop. Then she’d start contracting again, stop. We are like, “What is going on?” The midwife said that she could feel the tension in her cervix. Like, actually feel it. She sent her home and everything and she’s like, “Come over. Just come be with me.” I was like, “Okay.” We go over and she is talking a lot about her podcast. She’s like, “Well if I have a vaginal birth then how can I have a podcast for C-sections?” I was like, “Whoa whoa whoa. You can absolutely have a podcast for C-sections.” She’s like, “Yeah but then they’ll probably think I’m not really supportive because I chose to have a VBAC.” She started like going over what is in her head. I was like, “Okay. Let’s hold up.” I got some paper and we started writing things down. I said, “Write down all your thoughts.” So we wrote them all down and then we solved them. If that makes sense. We solved each of them. Right after she read them and we solved them, she burned them right there. On hands and knees, she burned them in this pot on her floor. Her, her mom, and I. We were all just gathered around her. It was so interesting. After each piece of paper that she burned, her contraction would pick up. And not just happen, like intensity. So after we processed all of this, it really seriously did make a big difference. She went on and she totally rocked her VBA2C after five days of labor but there was a lot that she needed to let go emotionally and physically to allow this baby to come. I also had an experience myself. There’s actually a picture of my midwife hugging me and talking to me. She’s like, “You’ve got to get out of your head. You’re going to be okay. Stop doubting yourself.” She kept saying, “Stop doula-ing yourself.” I’m like, “Oh okay.” I got out of that space and things changed. You processed this thing that you weren’t super thinking about all the time, but obviously, it was there. Your subconscious was thinking about this and then it changed everything. I think that the more you can work through things, fear release before you enter birth, the better. But know that it’s okay to work through it during labor too. It’s okay to stop and let labor go if that makes sense. Let it just be and then process what’s going on. Talk about it. That’s another reason why it’s so important to have people in your birth space that you trust, can discuss and talk about because once you discussed this and you said it out loud, to the point where someone was listening, boom. Things went from 0 to 90 it sounds like. We talk about it in our course and we talk about it with our clients because it’s important. There are tons of ways you can do it. Like I said, you can burn them. Julie has a video on our YouTube, right? It’s on YouTube, not Instagram stories right? Or maybe it’s on both. Julie: Yeah. Well, I think it’s on Instagram stories or IGTV and on our YouTube Channel, The Smokeless Fear Release. But notice, it’s only smokeless if you are only burning a small amount of paper because one time we did it in a class at my house. There were six people burning their papers and we totally set off my smoke alarms still. Meagan: Yes. So there’s that, writing it down. In our course, we have a fear release activity that we do where we try to figure out where the stem of the fear is coming from because sometimes there’s a lot of static and it seems like it’s so much more than it really is. If we can break it down and find the stem, or the root I should say after last year, then all the little leaves on the fear tree don’t seem so big. Don’t we have a free download, Julie, on our blog? Julie: I don’t think we have the fear release worksheet as a free download. Meagan: Oh, maybe we don’t. Darn it. I was going to say, “We have one to download.” Julie: It doesn’t have to be anything formal. You can just write down your feelings. Write down all the things that are on your mind. Just write and write and write. It doesn’t have to be perfect writing. It doesn’t have to be punctuated correctly. It doesn’t even have to be legible. Just write it down on paper. Don’t even go back and reread it. Write it down, then burn it or flush it down the toilet or-- probably rip it into small pieces before you do that-- or bury it, throw it into a river, shred it and toss it into the wind, or something to get rid of it. There’s a lot of power in doing that. Q&A Meagan: We have some questions that I would love to ask you. We did go over maybe what some of the answers would be, but the first one is, what is a secret lesson or something that no one really talks about that you wish that you would have known ahead of time? What we just said pretty much covered that. You didn’t know all of these things, but is there anything you’d like to add to that? Liz: Read the books. It’s a happy medium between making yourself crazy by hearing a bunch of different stories that could go wrong and just understanding the scope and sequence of birth. Meagan: Right. Totally. The other question is, what is your best tip for someone preparing for a VBAC? We personally love this answer that you wrote down, but I love every single one of them. What would you say? Liz: Listening to The VBAC Link religiously and I can’t-- Oh, I know how I found you. I had to think about it for a second. Meagan: Yeah. How did you find us? We love learning how people find us. Liz: It all just came from a hashtag. I started getting really into it. I got onto Instagram and started looking at VBAC as a hashtag. Y’all are right up there at the top. Julie: Boom. Liz: You have all your little tips and I was like, “Who are these people?” I think I started following you and reading the stories. At some point, I saw a picture and it was like, “Listen to so and so‘s birth story.” I hopped on over. It was perfect timing with COVID happening. There was all this time to walk around and listen to podcasts all of a sudden. So that’s how it happened. I would say, do that. I would say, find a book that resonates with you. There are lots and lots of different books that give you all kinds of advice. The one that I really loved and worked for me really well was-- I can’t remember who wrote it-- but it was Natural Childbirth in the Hospital or something to that extent. It talked about how to have a birth without medicine in the hospital. It was really cool. Meagan: I am looking it up right now. Having a natural birth at the hospital does that sound-- Liz: That sounds really really familiar, yeah. Julie: I think it’s Natural Hospital Birth or something. Liz: That’s it. Meagan: Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel. Liz: The coolest thing about it is that it’s a workbook in a lot of areas. It has you do this thing that was so helpful to me. It had you write down your dream birth. Not like your dream reasonable birth, but your dream if space and time didn’t exist. You could do fantasy kind of things. Like, “Oh, well here you are in Arizona during the early birth.” Then when you’re transitioning, you were here. This music’s happening. I got to write down this crazy, ridiculous could never actually happen birth, like my ideal birth. Going through that process I was able to find things that I could actually take into real life that would be important for me to experience during birth. I thought that was really cool. Megan: I love that. I need to read more books. Sometimes I am just like, “Man.” You guys, I swear I just can’t read. Julie: We all know that you don’t like to read by now, I think, and it’s okay. You don’t have to like to read. That’s what podcasts are for. Meagan: I know. I know I just can’t do it but you learn such valuable things. Julie: You know, I used to love to read. I buy books and I intend to read them, but now by the end of the day, kids are in bed, I crash and I’m like, “Reading is too much work.” Liz: Book on tape, book on tape. Meagan: Yeah, I do listen. I do listen to that and I cycle. So I sometimes will listen to books that way. It’s kind of nice. But yeah. Oh, another thing you added on that was fitness and good health. I love that. I am a big advocate for that. I’ve seen a big difference in my own births because of that. Liz: That’s huge. I think that’s one of the amazing things that COVID contributed to because again, I had all this time now. It happened in this beautiful time in Houston where it actually was great weather. It was not hot in March when all this started. I was going on two hour walks every day with my two-year-old all around the park. That was so incredibly important to having a successful VBAC. Meagan: I love it. Yep. With my first pregnancy, I gained 42 pounds and was really swollen. I was a hot mess. With the next one, I really dialed into nutrition, fitness, and all that stuff. I didn’t have a VBAC with that but I don’t think it was because of anything. I think that my all-around pregnancy and everything was so much better because of where I was at. Liz: Yeah. I gained 50 pounds with my first so I hear you girl. Meagan: Yeah. It’s funny. I have people in my neighborhood-- They didn’t know me when I was pregnant with my first. They’ve seen pictures and they’re like, “You’re unrecognizable.” I am like, “Yeah. I know. I was an Oompa Loompa.” But yeah. Well, awesome. Thank you so much. Liz: Thanks guys, it was awesome talking to you. Closing Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.
51 minutes | 12 days ago
151 Gretchen's VBAC + Prenatal Anxiety
“A lot of people have the idea that if you’re in therapy or if you’re using extra help, then it’s a weakness and it’s not. It’s a strength. It really is. It’s okay to need support and to need help.” Gretchen is a licensed professional counselor, a marathon runner, and a mom of two boys from Marietta, Georgia. She also has battled severe anxiety throughout her life. As Gretchen shares her unique obstacles from both of her pregnancies and births, her story is sure to be a message of inspiration and hope. Throughout her birth journeys, Gretchen experienced unexpected stressors like infertility, medical complications, and a pandemic that threatened to let her anxiety take over and win. But Gretchen didn’t let it. She chose to strengthen herself and made a plan. Through bi-weekly therapy, education, and a powerful birth team, Gretchen found the support she needed to stay well. She trusted her intuition, found her courage, and had a victorious VBAC, confirming to herself something she already knew-- that she is stronger than her anxiety. We get very vulnerable in this episode as we talk about the importance of asking for help and how much we all need extra support, especially in the birth space. Additional links Antepartum Depression Blog Better Help Therapy Episode sponsor This episode is brought to you by Nourisher. Whether you are in the prenatal, postnatal, or nursing stage of motherhood, Nourisher bars have your nutrition covered without sacrificing flavor. Their delicious flavors include Blueberry Coconut, Chocolate Banana, Maple Walnut, Papaya Turmeric, Spirulina Ginger, and Strawberry Rosehip. Check them out at thevbaclink.com/go/nourisher. Full transcript Meagan: Hello, hello. It is Wednesday and you’ve got Julie and Meagan with you today. We’re so excited as usual. I don’t feel like we’re ever not excited to be recording. Julie: We’re kind of a happy couple of people. Meagan: We are, and it’s so fun to get to know all these people from all over the world. Today we have our friend, Gretchen. She is going to share her story. She’s actually from Georgia. Is that correct, Gretchen? Gretchen: Yes. Marietta, which is a suburb of Atlanta. Meagan: Yes. So, she is going to share her story with us today. I want to tell you a little bit about her. She calls herself an “old mom”. I don’t think she’s old. I do not think she’s old. Julie: Um, we’re the same age, Gretchen, and I also feel old. Meagan: No! You guys are not old. But anyway, she’s got two boys. One is two months and one is two years. She’s actually a licensed professional counselor but has, of course, been wanting to be a mom. She’s been taking some time off. We’re excited to hear her story and if you guys have not seen this amazing picture of her, please go to Instagram right now @thevbaclink and check it out. It is so awesome. It gives me the chills. Go check it out and let us know how it makes you feel. The raw photos after birth or right as birth happens are so amazing. A lot of people are like, “Oh, I was so ugly crying.” And when I say that, that was me. I said that. I was like, “I’m such an ugly crier.” But I love it. I love it because it is so true and raw. It gives you the feeling of what that moment felt like. This is definitely one of those images that I just feel it. But Julie has a review of the week of course so we want to pass the time over to her and then we will get into Gretchen’s awesome story. Review of the week Julie: Yeah. We’ve been reading a lot of reviews from Apple Podcasts lately. So I’m going to take it back to Google this week. Most podcast apps don’t allow you to write a review, except for Apple Podcasts. So if you don’t have Apple Podcasts, go and Google The VBAC Link. Our business will pop up right there. You can leave a review on Google for us. That’s pretty awesome because when those reviews come in, it really makes our day. It brings a smile to our face and it helps us push through the screaming children and the hot chocolate all over our counters and the little pieces of cut-up paper on the floor and the parmesan cheese mixed up with cocoa pebbles thrown all over the couch. I mean, hypothetically here. Meagan: Yeah, that doesn’t happen at my house. Julie’s kids-- I don’t even know. Julie: I don’t know if they’re smart, if they’re super problem solvers and figure out how to get what they want, or if they just want to live on the edge… Meagan: Every time you send me pictures I’m like, “Holy cow.” Like, whoa. They’re fun. Julie: My kids are not well-trained. That’s probably it. Okay, so my oldest, when he was 20 months old, when I was pregnant with my VBAC baby-- he figured out how to move a chair over to the countertop, climb on the chair, climb on the countertop and climb up on top of the fridge to get the Halloween candy down. He wasn’t even two yet. And now my current two-year-old is climbing up on the fridge. Anyways, holy cow, that was a big digression. You guys, it’s been a rough day at my house. Let’s just get on to the warm and fuzzies, shall we? Alright, this is from Hayley Killpack on Google. She says, “The VBAC link made a world of difference for me in achieving my successful VBAC!! Because of the VBAC Link, I was able to arm myself and feel completely confident in my choices for MY birth. I was able to determine that my hospital midwife was only VBAC tolerant and made the switch around 28 weeks to a VBAC supportive midwife at a birthing center. I listened to every single episode as I prepared for the birth of my second baby after a very traumatic first hospital birth. With the knowledge, I gained, and the support I felt, I was able to achieve my unmedicated VBAC water birth just over one month ago! Thank you Meagan and Julie for supporting, caring, and providing us the information and tools to have a successful VBAC! I now feel like the woman of strength that I am, and knew I always could be!!” Yes! I love that so much. Thank you, Hayley Killpack, for giving us some warm and fuzzies to get us through the terrorist childhood days. Mine. Meagan’s are obviously angels. Meagan: Mine are definitely not angels, but man. I don’t have cocoa powder all over my house. Julie: Yeah, that was awesome. It was a good day. I need to lock the pantry. We have a lock on our pantry and the fridge for these reasons but sometimes we leave them unlocked and it’s like a spidey sense. They just know. They just know when the pantry’s unlocked. Episode sponsor This episode is brought to you by Nourisher. Formerly known as Milkful Nursing Bars, the company has rebranded and expanded to bring you new bars. New flavors to meet all of your needs throughout the motherhood journey. Nourisher products are made to “nourish her.” Each of the products are super nutrient-dense while still being a very tasty snack that moms can look forward to. Their delicious flavors include Blueberry Coconut, Chocolate Banana, Maple Walnut, Papaya Turmeric, Spirulina Ginger, and Strawberry Rosehip. Let’s talk about flavor. My favorite, guys? Strawberry Rosehip hands down. Not only are these bars delicious and tasty, but they have amazing benefits for both you and your baby in the pre and postnatal stages. They increase your energy. They support tissue repair and brain building. They improve gut health with fiber, probiotics, and healthy fats. They give you a nutritional lift from sprouted grains and seeds that provide essential nutrients. They are packed with superfoods like turmeric, spirulina, and rosehip to support a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation throughout the pregnancy and postpartum stages. Go ahead and give Nourisher a try. You can get right to them by clicking the link in our show notes or going to thevbaclink.com/go/nourisher. Give them a try. You will not regret it. Gretchen’s story Meagan: Okay, Ms. Gretchen. We are going to turn the time over to you. We don’t want to take any more of your time rambling because we tend to do that. We just have so much fun. Let’s hear your awesome story. Julie: Yeah, I’m excited for this one. Gretchen: Okay. Well first, thank you for having me. I’m really excited to be here. I drove 40 minutes to my chiropractor throughout my pregnancy and I listened to The VBAC Link every time I went every week. This was an instrumental part in my pregnancy. So I’m really excited to be here. I guess I’ll start with my C-section baby, my first baby, and that journey. My husband and I got married in 2013 and in 2015, we decided we wanted to start a family. I stopped the birth control pill and I didn’t get a period. We were kind of puzzled and scratching our heads as to what was going on. After a thorough workup by several doctors-- I was very into athletics at the time. I was running marathons and I was doing fitness competitions. It was concluded that I had something called hypothalamic amenorrhea, which is basically the absence of a menstrual cycle due to an energy imbalance. You know how you hear that gymnasts don’t have their menstrual cycles or things like that? Meagan: Runners, gymnasts, yep. Gretchen: Right, yep. So, to make a long story short, it was a two-year process to get me to respond to an ovulation induction medication. It also involved the opposite of what you hear from most modern medical advice, which is to lose weight and move more. My treatment was to move less and gain weight which was very interesting and kind of an odd place to be when you’re trying to conceive. You know, you always think, “The more active I am, the healthier I am.” In my case, that was not true. My hormones were absolutely a wreck. I had post-menopausal estrogen levels. It was really unhealthy, but I had no clue because I was on the pill for so long. We took a good two year period to get my body in a healthy place and responding to an ovulation induction medication. I should also mention, we had also tried an injectable cycle with a reproductive endocrinologist, but it became apparent that until I was really healthy, I wasn’t going to respond to medication and I really wanted to get well before I was pregnant anyway. That was a really, really painful time. The biggest piece of that that I really want to touch on was, I’ve always battled anxiety and I was always on an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to manage that anxiety. I decided to stop that when I decided to get pregnant. That was a really challenging time because I didn’t have the therapeutic benefit of medication which had always helped me. Then I had the infertility. So it was a really challenging two years. This was kind of a “Hail Mary” pass to try this medicine. On the second cycle, I peed on that stick and there were two lines. We just couldn’t believe it. We were over the moon, thrilled. That was 2017 when we got pregnant. Everything was fine with that pregnancy. It was pretty uneventful up until our anatomy scan. At our anatomy scan, it was discovered that my son had a kidney abnormality. If you can imagine going from two years of infertility to everything being fine, to then this gut punch at your anatomy scan that something is wrong. It was really, really scary and really hard. We were referred to the high-risk doctor. And my son is fine. So, looking back now, I’m grateful for the care that I got, but it’s terrifying. You’re a first-time mom. Pregnancy is scary in and of itself. I’m anxious as all get-out and now I have this baby with a problem that I don’t know anything about. It was a really hard pregnancy. I think I had a total of about nine ultrasounds, which, that’s a lot of ultrasounds. It was, like, hyper-monitoring of this baby. So every time I would go to the doctor, my husband would come to the appointments. It was like, on pins and needles, “Is he okay?” And looking back, I probably was overly concerned, but I also had no basis of reference. It was just really scary. The whole pregnancy was very stressful. I got to 39 weeks on the button and my water broke at home. You always imagine your water breaking like the movies. For me, it was not like that. It was a little trickle. I called the OB and they said, “Well, go to the hospital.” I was having no contractions. I felt nothing. I should mention, I was supposed to be induced three days later. Due to his kidney, they wanted to induce me. Looking back now, I wish I wouldn’t have agreed to that, but it didn’t matter because my water broke at 39 anyway. I get into triage and they check me in. It was kind of like everything that could have gone wrong went wrong which led to the C-section. I had a hospitalist come in and check me. I think I was dilated to a 2. But you know the doctors that are just cold? I don’t even think the man introduced himself before he was giving me a cervical exam. Meagan: Just no bedside manner? Gretchen: None. And I was so scared. I just was so scared anyway. I was so hyper-vigilant. I had no clue what was going on. It was really scary. So I get in there and I’m not dilated but they got me on the monitor. Next thing I know, I started to feel lightheaded. I told my husband, I said, “Go get the nurse.” And he said, “Well, I don’t know where she went.” I said, “Go find her.” I started seeing stars. My blood pressure tanked. I had a vasovagal syncope. I think it was a combination of the anxiety, the situation, the broken water because I knew enough to know you’re kind of on a clock when your water breaks. I felt like everyone was really just over-monitoring me anyway, which made me more stressed, which was the last thing I needed. My blood pressure got really low and so the monitors went off. Baby’s heart rate got down to 60 or 70, I can’t remember, but enough that the monitors were really going off. Next thing I know, there’s like, four nurses in the room and they’re rolling me to get blood flow back to the placenta. It was really alarming. It happened again. My OB was paged so she was able to come in. She said, “What do you want to do? Do you want to do a C-section or do you want to try and labor?” At that point, I wasn’t really thinking clearly because I had just had these two episodes of syncope. My dad’s a retired physician and I called him. I was in Florida at the time and he was in California so it was 4:00 a.m. for him. I called and said, “What do I do?” He said, “Get that baby out.” I don’t regret that decision because my son’s heart rate was very alarming. I think with everything that had gone on, it was the right decision to have the C-section. But when he was delivered, I couldn’t hold him. There was no skin-to-skin. He was taken right away. It was the most helpless feeling being on that table. It was nothing I had imagined. I was thrilled he was born but I felt really sad and detached in that moment. It was just not the birth I had always envisioned. He’s amazing. I have a wonderful, beautiful two-year-old little boy. But it was a really hard two years to get pregnant. It was a really hard nine months being pregnant and it was a really hard delivery. That being said, we knew we wanted to have kids kind of close together. The good news was, my menstrual cycle returned after I weaned him which was really cool because my body had finally healed. I had this baby and I was menstruating normally. It was a really great feeling. But my cycles were still irregular, so I used ovulation induction medicine to conceive my VBAC baby but for a different reason. Just because my husband travels and when you’re trying to get pregnant with a partner who’s not here, it’s hard to tag things. We had moved to Atlanta. We moved from Tampa, Florida to Atlanta when my son was right around a year. We decided to start trying when he was 13 or 14 months and it took us two cycles. It was pretty quick. Again, in my head, it would take longer because we had such trouble the first time. I’m like, “Oh, we’ll have a good three-year gap.” It wasn’t. It was like, right away. And so, we got pregnant. It was really exciting. It was, again, pretty uneventful. But I want to mention too, that I did a lot of work on my anxiety and my birth trauma prior to getting pregnant. I worked with a therapist weekly. Being a clinician myself, I recognize the importance of doing that. I was really diligent about trying to heal before getting pregnant again. I knew when I got pregnant again that I wanted to try to have a vaginal birth, but I was concerned my anxiety would hold me back from that just because it had been such a hindrance on things in the past. I got pregnant and I had found a good OB the summer before we conceived. I liked her a lot. I felt like she listened to me. I felt a lot more heard than I ever had at the Florida practice. She was young and I felt she was pretty up to date on things. She was very open to VBAC which surprised me, especially from hearing all of your podcasts about Georgia providers. She was very open to it. She’s like, “Of course,” which really shocked me. Julie: I wonder if you had the same one as Grace Allen. Because I’ve only ever heard of one VBAC supportive provider in Atlanta. Meagan: Me too. Gretchen: Not only was she supportive, but she was encouraging because there had been times I had come in and I’m like, “I don’t know if I want to do this.” And she goes, “No. You’re going to see what your body can do.” She was super encouraging. She was laid back, but in a good way if that makes sense. She was laid back to the point that it made me laid back which helped me not be so terrified all of the time. She even said she goes, “Gretchen, when I was in residency, we had women who had two C-sections VBACing. You’re fine.” She was really, so supportive. It was amazing. So, she had put that right away in my chart when I came in that I wanted to VBAC, which I felt really great about because I felt like I really had a good person supporting me. I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy up until the pandemic which hit. I’m like, “Really? The first baby, I had this kidney issue and now there’s a pandemic.” But I’m like, “I’ll have a story to tell these boys one day.” Meagan: If you only knew the times, the things that were happening. Gretchen: Right. I remember I went to see my parents in California in February. I remember this coronavirus being all over China in February and thinking, “Oh, well it’s over in China. We’ll be okay.” Then I get home and it was everywhere. It was really alarming. I was working with my therapist and at that time, they didn’t have any data on COVID in pregnant women. The data that they did have was very limited. It was only that one China study. I don’t know if you remember back in the spring. It was on, I think, 19 women in China and they had all had C-sections. So it was a really limited amount of data. My therapist, I was still seeing via telehealth from Florida and he was really up to date. He was continuing to provide me research on the data and really trying to put my mind at ease. But when COVID hit, I increased my therapy to about twice a week which I think also really helped. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk about this was, pregnancy makes my anxiety heightened anyway and then you add a pandemic on top of it. It was a lot of work to manage it. And it is work. Because it is a condition I couldn’t use therapeutic medication for. So I had to do extra talk therapy to keep myself healthy. I did that to the best of my ability. But it was really alarming and it was really scary because it was so unknown. So we did grocery pickup. We didn’t really go anywhere. My husband worked from home which was lucky we could do that but it was a challenging time because it was just so unknown. At that point, I don’t know if you remember too where I didn’t know if I would have to give birth alone, which, the thought of that was daunting because at that time they were pulling partners out of delivery rooms. Do you remember that back in, I think it was March when it started? Meagan: Yep. April in New York and things like that. Gretchen: I told my husband, I said, “What do we do if I’m by myself?” And he just said, “One foot in front of the other. We’ll figure it out.” I did know from the beginning that I did not feel comfortable with a home birth. Not because I didn’t think I could do it but I had thought I was too anxious and for me, I wanted fetal monitoring. I know some women, the monitor makes them feel worse and for me, I said, “If I have any priority to VBAC, I want a monitor,” because it made me feel more secure. So I said that a hospital setting, for me, was going to be part of my birth plan. I said, “Well, we’ll just keep going and hope for the best.” I had had a friend that had delivered in April and she had a really good experience at the hospital I had delivered at. At that point, her husband was there and I don’t even think she had to wear a mask. So I was feeling positive about the experience that I could have there because I had heard nothing but good things about this hospital. Everything was moving along smoothly. Then I talked to a friend of mine from Tampa who was a NICU nurse. I think I was maybe 35 weeks at this point. She had told me how she elected for-- her first baby was breech. She had elected for a repeat C-section and she told me some scary things about uterine rupture and I understand why. It’s her experience but it really scared me. I felt like I should just back out and I should have a C-section because there’s no way I could do this. Not because I didn’t think my body could do it, but because I thought my anxiety would hold me back. I reached out to Julie and she really helped me through that. I realized it was really that mental hurdle of getting over that because I was just scouring the internet on uterine rupture. Then I listened to your podcast on statistics of uterine rupture which really helped putting it into perspective. I think it was you, Meagan, that gave all the statistics about it, right? And looking at how you’re more likely to date a millionaire than have a rupture. Is that what the statistic was? Meagan: That’s totally Julie. I probably did read it but that was totally Julie who put that together. Gretchen: Okay. Julie, maybe you had read it. Meagan: She is the statistic guru. Gretchen: Yeah. So that really helped put in perspective what are my true risks. Then also looking at what are the risks of a Cesarean because no one had ever told me the risks of Cesarean. In fact, every doctor I had talked to prior to my current provider... Meagan: ...only probably talked about the risk of VBAC. Gretchen: Well they made Cesarean seem really safe. No one had ever told me that it may not be. Julie: Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. They make Cesareans seem really safe. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it said that way before. But no, that’s what they do. They do. Gretchen: Yeah. It was baffling to me. Once I got closer to the time of my delivery, I felt this little tug-of-war in my head. Up until that third trimester I was like, “I’m going to VBAC. This is going to be great.” As soon as that third trimester hit, the anxiety really kicked in. Every other day I felt like I was going back and forth. My therapist was really advocating for me to VBAC. He put it in perspective. He knew how many children I wanted. He said, “This is your chance. If you want to do this, this is the time to do it,” and really put it in perspective for me which was so helpful. And then I talked to Julie which was so helpful. So it was like I continued to arm myself with people and information to help encourage me to keep going. I worked with my husband to come up with a plan of where our two-year-old was going to go when we delivered because our original plan was to have my parents come be with us but they could no longer come because my parents are high risk and couldn’t travel. My mother-in-law ended up getting COVID tested and driving from Pennsylvania to Georgia in one day to come take care of my two-year-old. Julie: Aw, bless her heart. Gretchen: Yeah, it was pretty wonderful because of everything going on. She was able to come. She kind of stayed the last half of July. I was due July 20th. She came the 15th through the 1st and figured I’d deliver at some point in that time frame. So, she came and I honestly thought that I would go into labor before 39 just because I did with my son and I had heard that second babies came sooner, which is not true by the way as I’m sure you guys know. Julie: I feel you on that one. Gretchen: I think I was 39 and 5. My doctor had offered to strip my membranes early, I think at 38 and I said no. Then when I went in at 39 I was dilated to a 3. I think it was a 2 or 3. I can’t remember. At that point, I was okay with it. You know when you’re just so done being pregnant? I didn’t feel good. I was exhausted. It was so much harder than the first time because I was chasing my two-year-old around. I said that it was fine. I was okay with that. I know that’s a controversial intervention but I felt comfortable with her and I said, “That’s fine.” So she stripped my membranes on Friday. I came back on Monday and on Monday I was dilated to a 4. And I think then she stripped me and I was a 5 when I left there. Or something like that, which was pretty good. I was walking around at a 3 or a 4 for a few weeks, which I was pretty happy with. On Wednesday morning, I woke up-- I never had true contractions with my son, so I asked my doctor, “Will I know what these feel like? Will I know it’s a contraction?” She said, “Don’t worry. You won’t miss it. You’ll know.” So I woke up and I knew I was having contractions. But they were very irregular. This was like at 5 in the morning. Then they would go away and come back. I thought I was having prodromal labor because they were so sporadic. My mother-in-law and I went for a two-mile walk in the morning. My husband had to go down to his office. So he wasn’t around and we walked. At that point, I started keeping track of them because they were becoming regular. I say regular and I mean every 15 minutes, but they were consistently every 15 minutes. Then I’d have one maybe 20 minutes and then it would bounce back to 15, but they were pretty even. I still thought, “Okay, well they’re even,” but they didn’t really hurt. I was fine and I didn’t think anything of it really. But then very quickly, things changed. So by 3 or 4:00 p.m., they were about 8 minutes apart pretty consistently. By 5:00 p.m., we were eating dinner and they were 7 minutes apart. We have a 40-minute drive to the hospital. So, 7 minutes apart. I think as dinner was wrapping up, they were about 5 minutes apart. My mother-in-law said, “You should probably at least call your doctor.” I was like, “No, I’m fine. It’s fine,” because I wanted to stay at home as long as possible and I didn’t want intervention. I wanted to avoid it as long as I could. Finally, she convinced me. So I called the on-call midwife for my doctor. She told me I was in early, active labor but she said to just come in because the hospital was very busy. I took a shower. My husband was a little more anxious than I was to get in, but I’m taking my sweet time and I’m really having to breathe through them. Now they’re getting a little more intense. I’m thinking that this was probably a good idea to head in. My mother-in-law was really cute. She put a towel down in the car thinking my water was going to break. I was not concerned about that at all but she was very thoughtful to put a towel down on my seat. We drove into the hospital. I delivered at the biggest hospital in the country for labor and delivery. They call it “The Baby Factory” because there’s a whole building dedicated to labor and delivery. Meagan: Wow. Julie: That’s intense. Gretchen: Yeah. It’s humongous. It was a lot. So I get in and I see, literally, nine other women in this waiting room in labor. And I’m like, “Okay,” and I’m a little overwhelmed with that. But I check in and I heard the triage woman make a comment about being out of beds. I thought she meant after me they would be out of beds. I didn’t think she meant they were currently out of beds. So I go back to the waiting room and everyone’s in masks. They’re disinfecting everything. I don’t even love being in hospitals, well really at all, but especially in the pandemic. It’s alarming because there’s germs and I didn’t want to be there, but this baby was coming. It was about 8:00 p.m. at that point. I’m thinking, “Oh, I’ll get into my room quickly.” Well, 9:00 rolls around, and now these contractions are-- I’m uncomfortable. I’m leaning against this pillar in this waiting room breathing through them and I told my husband, I go, “I’ve got to get in there. What’s going on?” The administration woman that was checking me in, I went up and asked her, “What’s going on?” She goes, “We just don’t have any beds.” And I said, “What do you mean you don’t have any beds? I have to have this baby.” I ended up calling this midwife back and she said, “Hang out. As soon as a bed opens, we’ll get you in a room.” A nurse came out and she said, “Are you the woman that had the previous C-section?” I said, “Yeah.” They were kind of jumping me to the front of the line because I think in their mind I took priority over previous vaginal births which I thought was nice. Meagan: That’s interesting. Probably because they wanted you on a monitor? Julie: Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking. Meagan: Were you not on a monitor in triage, though? Gretchen: No, I was literally in a waiting room. So I get into a room and I get on a monitor. I remember feeling really panicky at this point and just scared. I could feel the anxiety creeping back in. This nurse was so wonderful. She came up to me and she put her hand on my wrist and she said, “You’re going to be okay. I’m watching your baby and you’ve got to let us take care of you.” And I just felt like, “Okay. I’m going to be okay. These nurses care.” It felt so different than the first time. I really felt like it was going to be okay. I knew I wanted an epidural because I was concerned about having the syncope again which I knew would lead me to C-section again. So for me, I figured if I got the epidural, I wouldn’t have the syncope. The midwife came in and asked me when I wanted it and she said, “If you wait too long, you might not get it.” So I said, “Okay.” I’m glad I agreed when I did because it took the anesthesiologist another hour or so to even get to me. I guess-- let me back up. I got into my room at 11:00 p.m. and I got my epidural around 2:00 a.m. At that point, I was really glad for it because I was in a lot of pain. I couldn’t really rest and they were pretty consistently 3 minutes apart-- contractions, at that point. The epidural was really nice. I didn’t want so much numbness that I couldn’t feel anything and the anesthesiologist was really receptive to that. I got just enough to not feel pain, but I could still feel pressure if that makes sense, which was nice that I wasn’t so numb. It wasn’t anything like a spinal which was great. I ended up taking a little bit of a rest. I couldn’t sleep, but I did rest. At that point, when I had checked in, I was dilated to a 6. They came back and checked me around 4:30 in the morning. The midwife on call checked me and she said I was at a 7. She said, “I have other news for you. This baby is sunny-side up.” My heart just sank because I knew-- not that you can’t deliver sunny-side up-- but I knew it made things a little bit more challenging. But she told me, “Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes babies flip at the last minute. It’s okay.” But I was pretty discouraged at that point and I just felt like I was destined for C-section again. My husband said, “No, don’t think like that. Just relax and hope that he flips.” They put me on a peanut ball and they switched me side to side-- it was between my legs-- every 30 to 40 minutes. But I was just laying there praying that he flipped. She had also offered to break my water at 7 centimeters and it didn’t feel right to me. You know that feeling where they’re trying to start pushing interventions? I started to get that vibe a little bit. I dug my heels in. I was nice but I kind of didn’t say anything. I just said, “I’m not really comfortable with that.” She goes, “Okay, that’s fine. We’ll wait.” I was glad I did that because I think what had happened was when they gave me the epidural, the monitor fell off my belly, so she thought contractions had stopped. In reality, it just didn’t pick them up. When they put the monitor back on, there they were again. I was glad I trusted myself because it was really cool to see my body do what it knew to do without needing to “speed up my labor” which is what she was trying to do. Julie: That’s awesome. Good for you. Gretchen: So I said, “No.” I didn’t want to do that. She came back in, I think it was right before shift change, right before 7:00. She checked me again and I was at an 8 and at this point, she said-- at that point, I was okay. I don’t know why. I just went with my gut. She said, “Can I break your water?” And I said, “Yeah that’s fine.” She did and everything still kept moving along okay. I continued to take a little bit of a rest. At 9:30, next thing I knew, I felt the urge to go to the bathroom. I felt the urge to poop. I told my husband, I said, “Something’s happening.” At this point, I went from feeling nothing to feeling everything very quickly. I did not expect this with an epidural. I went from feeling peaceful, bliss, resting to, “Something majorly is happening. This baby is coming.” I said, “You need to go get somebody,” because they had all left the room. I hadn’t had nurses in there really since that last 7:00 time. He goes, “Well, no one’s out there.” I go, “You’ve got to find somebody. This baby’s coming. Something’s happening.” He went out and this new midwife had come in. She was really, really nice. I liked her a lot. She had great bedside manner. She checked me. This is probably 9:30-9:40 and she said, “You’re at a 9.5.” And I said, “Okay.” She said, “Let’s try some practice pushes. I want to see how your cervix moves around his head.” I said, “Okay.” She goes, “Oh, this is moving nicely and by the way, he flipped.” I was thrilled. I was so happy he had turned on his own. She said, “I’m going to get the room set up but I have to go deliver another baby. I’ll be right back.” I go, “What do you mean? You’re leaving? You can’t leave!” She goes, “Hang on. I’ll be right back.” She literally left the room. I’m laying there feeling like this baby’s coming out. It was really stressful when she said, “Just hold on.” I go, “Well, how do you ‘hold on’?” But she left and she popped back in, probably about 20 minutes later which was a very long 20 minutes when I was feeling everything at this point. Now I was almost overwhelmed with the pain. It wasn’t the pain itself, it was that it went from 0 to 100 so fast. Julie: Yes. Gretchen: Yes. It was so overwhelming. I asked for more epidural and they said, “We can get it but it’s probably too late,” because I was too far along and where it was in my back. They just said, “This is what this is.” You know when you get the wind knocked out of you? That was the kind of pain because it went from peaceful to excruciating. The midwife asked my husband, “How involved do you want to be? Do you want to be at her head or at her feet?” He said, “A little bit of both.” She said, “Well do you want to see your son’s head?” because he was descending. My husband said, “His head’s right there. I can see it.” Every contraction I had a nurse up by my head. I had a nurse down by my feet and I had the midwife. They were coaching me through. They were so compassionate and they were so kind. I was in the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life and I didn’t think I could do it. It was so unbelievably painful. This nurse put her hand on me and she said, “I’ve done two of these without an epidural. You can do this. You can do this.” I was screaming. I don’t even know what came out of my mouth. It was probably a roar. It was so painful. The nurse got me a mirror and the next thing I knew, I saw his head. And so I just, you know, you just dig down deep and do what you have to do. Julie: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Gretchen: I pushed for 25 minutes and the next thing I knew, he was out. I was in disbelief that he came out that quickly. It actually seemed quicker than 25 minutes, but he was out and on my chest and it was this moment of bliss. Like, this happened. He was out and I was just sobbing. You know what every woman says when they VBAC, “I did it, I did it, I did it!” It was the best moment. Pushing was really hard because I had the mask on and you can’t breathe as well with a mask. My husband would put it down over my mouth to give me ice chips between each contraction because I was so thirsty, so exhausted, and sweating. It’s a lot harder when you can’t breathe freely. I had a 2nd-degree tear. Which, that was no walk in the park either. I knew that this would be an easier recovery than a C-section, or I had hoped it would be, but that was really painful. I think I tore as much as I did because I had the fetal ejection reflex. He didn’t come out head, then shoulders. He came out in one contraction. My husband said that the midwife wasn’t ready for him with how fast he flew out. He was 8lb, 3oz. You know, that’s not small. My first son was 7, 4. I asked her how many stitches I needed and she said, “I’m not counting,” which, that was enough said. I said, “Okay, great.” But it was so worth it. It was a much better recovery than my C-section. I could lift my toddler right away and I could play with him and get down on the floor and do all the things that I probably would not have been able to do with a C-section. I think the biggest part of all of this was I trusted my gut. I found a really supportive provider and I managed this anxiety condition that I’ve had forever with circumstances that were less than ideal. This isn’t something I want to toot my own horn about, but I was really proud of myself. It was a really challenging time. It was a challenging pregnancy. It was stressful. A VBAC is, in my opinion, a little bit more stressful route than if you haven’t had a previous C-section. To feel accomplished-- I set my mind to do this and I was able to succeed was really rewarding and empowering. I had the skin-to-skin time with him. It was such a healing moment and I really feel so happy and empowered that it was able to work out the way that it did. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I couldn’t have done it without this podcast, without the information that you guys provided because it was the best moment of my life. It was wonderful. Julie: You deserve to toot your own horn, girl. Toot that horn! Everyone who has a baby no matter what way-- you deserve it. Because it is a piece of work getting a baby here. Gretchen: Yeah. It was hard. Meagan: Yeah, well I was just going to say, we’re so grateful that all of the stories have been helping you and that along the way you kept following what you needed to do and it led you to where you are today. Julie: Yeah. I love that you talked about, “I don’t know why I decided to do this then, but I did and it worked.” That’s your intuition. I think that generally, us moms don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things that we do. Like, “I don’t know why I decided to do that,” but no, it’s because you’re a dang good mom. That’s why you decided to do it. Prenatal anxiety Julie: It doesn’t matter how you birth. It doesn’t matter what you do. But if you’re worried about it, then that makes you a good mom. There’s enough pressure on us to do things a certain way, especially like, we’re going for a VBAC, rigm8 u;upM ht? So we’re generally going against the grain. You’re right. There is way more anxiety and there’s so much pressure on us. At least for me, I can totally relate because I have anxiety 100%. I put way more pressure on myself to do things than anybody ever expects of me. I’m like, “I have to do this.” Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine. This is a really big tangent, but I have a friend, it was a guy friend. He met a girl who didn’t like that I was his best friend. He got engaged to her. That was the end of our relationship because she thought we hugged for too long or something. This happened, like, 10 years ago and I’m still not over it because I lost my friend. Anyways, I was married. We were all over there for dinner one night and I was newly pregnant. She had just had a baby. I was talking about my birth plans because this was my first baby. I was still going to have a hypnobirth and go unmedicated. I had all these plans, right? She was like, “Good luck trying to go unmedicated because I tried with this guy and I just could not take it.” I was like if there’s anything that would have ever pushed me to make it unmedicated, it was that girl who stole my best friend from me telling me that I couldn’t do it. I was like, well, now I’m extra motivated to do it. But I had a C-section, so that gave me a nice slice of humble pie in that regard. As far as putting pressure and stuff on yourselves, it’s a big deal. Then you tell people your plans and then you don’t want to look like a turd if you don’t-- you know what I mean. I probably don’t even have to explain. If you have anxiety, you’re probably like, “Yep,” nodding your head. You feel like you have to meet this expectation you have set for yourself or else everybody else will think you’re awful. Gretchen: Yep. But I think also, recognizing. One of the things that really helped was knowing that I have this anxiety disorder. I’ve had it forever and that’s okay. What tools do I need to help manage it throughout this pregnancy? And knowing that if I need therapy twice a week, that’s okay. If I need to talk to my OB and ask the same question three times, that’s okay too. It’s okay to reach out for help. A lot of people have the idea that if you’re in therapy or if you’re using extra help then it’s a weakness and it’s not. It’s a strength. It really is. It’s okay to need support and to need help. That’s what I wanted to really transmit through my story is that anxiety is like any other medical condition. It’s the way your brain’s wired and it’s okay. Pregnancy is hard enough without that and it’s okay to need extra help. I think having the OB that I found, although she didn’t deliver me, the midwives that worked with her-- they were all so VBAC friendly. I could not have had the birth I had without that group of women because they were so supportive of my desires. It was funny because she called my cell phone on the morning I delivered him. I had an appointment in her office and she called me. I had called to cancel it when I was in labor. She called me and I go, “He’s here!” She goes, “Congratulations.” She was so happy for me. It was really neat to talk to her when he was a half an hour old, which was really cool. Julie: Aw, that’s awesome. I agree with everything you said there. I have Hashimoto’s. When my Hashimoto’s flares up, I just don’t feel good. My anxiety gets worse when I have a flare-up. But then pregnancy puts me into a remission of sorts because pregnancy suppresses your immune system. Autoimmune diseases are when your immune system is attacking your body and if your immune system is suppressed, it’s kind of like a win-win. You get a baby and you don’t have to have Hashimoto’s for nine months essentially unless you’re the unfortunate one where your entire pregnancy is a flare-up. During my pregnancies, I would actually feel really good. I felt like I had less anxiety because I wasn’t having these Hashimoto’s attacks. Everything was golden except for my third pregnancy, which was a surprise, and I was really really just ticked off that I was pregnant. I was mad. And I know that some women try forever to get pregnant and it doesn’t work. How could I feel mad about being pregnant? But I was mad. I was in the middle of postpartum depression. I was struggling with two kids and why would this happen that I would be pregnant again? I struggled big-time during that pregnancy. One of the darkest moments of my life was during that pregnancy. It was in that moment, well it wasn’t in that moment but it was maybe a couple weeks after that, that I realized that this wasn’t normal, that I needed some help, and that if I didn’t, I was going to suffer greatly and so were my children. I went to my provider and I got on an antidepressant, sertraline. SSRIs are generally considered safe during pregnancy. I call it Vitamin Z because the brand name is Zoloft. Still on it four years later because hot chocolate and cocoa powder all over my freaking kitchen right now. But it is a normal thing. It’s okay to have that, especially right now. Oh my gosh, being pregnant during a pandemic. We want to end the stigma. A friend of mine that’s pretty dear to my heart just mentioned in passing that she had an appointment with a therapist. I was so excited inside because I have been hoping that she would go see somebody for a long time because she has a pretty complicated life. I was like, “Yes! I’m so excited that you’re finally doing this.” But I didn’t want to say it out loud because I didn’t want to make it weird or awkward. You know what I mean? Again, my anxiety-- overthinking it, right? When you realize that moment and the value that it’s going to bring into your life, it’s a really, really big deal. We actually had a sponsor on our podcast, let’s see, a few weeks ago, months ago, maybe? It’s on our resources page on thevbaclink.com/resources. You can find a link there to Better Help. It’s online counseling. You can get connected to a counselor in less than 24 hours. You fill out this questionnaire and they get to know everything about you and match you to a counselor that fits your needs and what’s going on in your life exactly. They’re amazing. If you use promo code VBAC, you get 10% off your first month. They’re really reasonably priced. They even have financial aid if you qualify for help paying for that therapy and counseling. Betterhelp.com, promo code VBAC. I think it just helps make it more comfortable. You can text them. You can email them anytime. It’s not like you have to go drive across town for an hour to see your therapist or whatever. So, plug-in for Better Help and all the good that they are doing for really anybody, not just pregnant people. A lot of times we think of anxiety and mood disorders and stuff like that for postpartum. It’s postpartum when you feel that, right? Postpartum depression. Postpartum OCD. Postpartum anxiety. We don’t talk enough about that, but we don’t talk near enough about what happens when you’re-- how about when you’re pregnant? I think there’s an even bigger stigma surrounding that. Meagan: I had a guest blogger for my doula page, not The VBAC Link, but Tiny Blessings and she wrote all about that. Actually, we should link in this as well. Julie: Yeah, link your blog. Meagan: She’s very vulnerable, like very vulnerable. Julie: I need to go read it. Meagan: But it’s amazing. It’s amazing what she talks about and what can happen like you said. It happens perinatal. It happens during the perinatal time as well. Julie: Yeah. Hormones are crazy. Gretchen: For me, it’s kind of like the opposite of your Hashimoto’s. Mine gets very inflamed when I’m pregnant. It tends to come down postpartum, although I was very aware of postpartum potential to be more problematic, but I’ve done pretty well. Again, I still maintain the therapy and all the things I need to do to stay well. One thing I forgot to mention was I wanted to hire a doula and I met with a doula the week before COVID hit. Then COVID hit and I wasn’t allowed to have the doula in the hospital. The doula and I did stay in touch a little bit, but I wasn’t able to have her. It all worked out how it was supposed to, but I felt bad because I really would have loved to work with her. Julie: Ugh, we’ve been feeling it too over here. Man, that’s crazy. Yeah, so if you’re struggling right now, or ever, or have been, or know somebody who is, go check out thevbaclink.com/resources. Get connected to Better Help and go read Meagan’s blog on her doula business page, tinyblessingsdoulaservices.com. She has a blog section there. Because sometimes it just feels good to know that you’re not alone. Meagan, do you want to wrap it up with the questions? Q&A Meagan: Yeah. Sorry, can you hear my kids splashing in the bathtub? Julie: Oh my gosh, I thought it was mine. It’s bedtime right here and my husband’s like, “I’m sorry, but it’s going to be a little loud for a minute.” Meagan: Yeah, sorry. Okay, so we have the questions at the end and question number one is: What is a secret lesson or something no one really talks about that you wish you would have known ahead of time when preparing for birth? Gretchen: Gosh, I don’t remember what I wrote. Meagan: Do you want me to read it? Gretchen: Yes. Why don’t you read what I wrote and then I will expound on it. Meagan: You said, “Advocating for yourself is imperative.” Which is funny. We actually just did-- today actually. We just did a whole episode on advocating for yourself and for your clients. It says, “When it comes to birth, it’s important that a mother feels educated and empowered to make decisions that are going to impact her and her baby. My VBAC experience was so much better than my C-section because I felt so prepared for all the possible scenarios.” Gretchen: Yeah, so I think that in my mind going in, I had a plan for a successful VBAC and I also had a plan for if that didn’t work out and if I had to have a C-section, that was okay too. But also, advocating for every decision along the way to make that VBAC happen. Like the example of wanting to break my water at 7 centimeters. It was okay that I said no. I’m allowed to say no. I don’t have to do that if I don’t want to. We often think hospital policies are laws. I really did. I didn’t realize you could say no. And it was so nice to say, “I don’t want to do that.” I don’t want an epidural and feel nothing. I was allowed to ask for what I wanted. In my opinion, it’s so important to do that. Otherwise for me, with my C-section, I felt like a victim of the system. Not that anyone was malicious, but it wasn’t a good experience. Meagan: Right. It is so important to know that you really do not have to just say yes and submit to everything that is being offered or suggested. The next question was: What is your best tip for someone preparing for a VBAC? Gretchen: I think I said, and I hope this is correct what I wrote-- really it’s education. Knowing what’s safe and how to achieve that. And also, really, really great providers. A provider that is on your team, not just VBAC tolerant but VBAC supportive. And then support all around you because I think without the team that I had, I would not have been successful. My husband is such a non-anxious person. He really is able to just support me and push me in that direction without being overwhelming. But he told me, he’s like, “You can do this.” Meagan: Yeah, that’s exactly what you said. “Educate yourself. Arm yourself with facts. Knowledge is power. And, most importantly, having supportive people around you-- family, friends, and providers.” I love it. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. And yes. Your story is going to be as inspiring and amazing. I don’t know-- I was going to ask you if you felt comfortable dropping your provider’s name because there are a lot of people in your area that don’t know supportive providers. But if not, it’s okay. Gretchen: It’s Dr. Rachel Paccione at Comprehensive Women’s OB/GYN. I saw her at the Dunwoody location but she also has an office in Duluth. She’s wonderful. I don’t know if I found a diamond in the rough because she was the only doctor I had when I moved here. I just found her online and then she was off the bat VBAC supportive, so I was under the impression that a lot of Georgia doctors were. Then I listened to your podcast and I’m like, “Oh. Maybe I got lucky.” Closing Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.
49 minutes | a month ago
149 Jill's VBAC + Birth Support Coaching
Jill from Alberta, Canada. She is a homeschooling mother to 3 children, a birth doula, and a recently certified birth support coach through the Birth Coach Method. She is excited to use her newly learned coaching tools to help her clients achieve their desired birth experience even if they cannot have a doula attend their birth. Jill works with pregnant women in their last trimester to coach them around their desires for their birth, their current reality, and circumstances and closes every coaching session with an action assignment designed to reach their goals. Aside from sharing her incredible VBAC story, we discuss: -What birth coaching is and how it is different from childbirth education. -How hiring a birth support coach can help you, even if you can't have a doula attend your birth. -How birth support coaching places the pregnant parent as an expert on their body and their birth. Find Jill and learn more about birth coaching on her Instagram page: @jillmcknight_birthdoula Episode Sponsor: This episode is brought to you by @Nourisher, formerly known as Milkful nursing bars, Nousrisher believes that moms deserve the most nutritious food. Their pre and post-natal bars are made to nourish her unique needs throughout motherhood, without sacrificing flavor. Their delicious flavors include Papaya Turmeric: A tropical treat! Folate-packed Papaya + anti-inflammatory Turmeric. Spirulina Ginger: Sweet and spicy! Nausea-soothing spicy ginger plus energy-boosting Spirulina, and Strawberry Rosehip: OMG flavor! Yummy strawberries plus immune-boosting Rosehip. Check them out at thevbaclink.com/go/nourisher Meagan: Happy Wednesday, women of strength! It is Julie and Meagan. We have Jill with us today. She’s in Canada and we cannot wait to hear not only her stories, but we want to dive in a little bit more on birth coaching-- something that she has gone into during her journey. She actually has three kids. She had a C-section and then two VBACs. We can’t wait to hear that story. She is a certified birth coach and a birth doula. We’re really excited to hear more about the coaching, what that entails and how we all can learn more because I know as a doula, for me, I think that would be something really fun to add to my offerings and my skills. I can’t wait to hear that. Julie has a review of the week, so we’ll turn the time over to her. Review of the week Julie: I’m Julie and I have a review of the week and I’m also interested in learning about birth coaching. I’m just really excited. I’m not going to start asking questions and things because it’s the very beginning of the episode. But at the end we might just pick your brain a little bit, Jill. This review is from Apple Podcasts and the reviewer name is Khuxx. The review’s name is “Success.” Khuxx says, “This podcast helped me in so many ways. I had my VBAC baby in the early morning on Thanksgiving four days past my due date. I was religiously listening to this podcast in those three days leading up to labor as I felt my chances of my perfect labor were being ripped away. Putting my headphones and pushing play on The VBAC Link when I would start to doubt my ability my whole pregnancy was honestly my lifesaver. I told my midwives that this was helping me stay positive and I recommend it to EVERYONE. Thank you SO MUCH for creating the perfect podcast for all pregnant moms, not just moms wanting to VBAC. If I would have known about this with my first, maybe the outcome would have been different.” Thank you so much, Khuxx, for that review. We were just talking about that before we started recording. We wish this had been around when we were having babies. And Jill, same thing. It always makes me feel really good when we hear that we are helping people and that our stories that we share on the podcast are helping others as well. Thank you, Jill, for sharing your story today. And thank you to everybody who has ever shared their story on our podcast and in our Facebook community and in our Instagram stories. We wouldn’t be The VBAC Link without every single one of you. So, thank you. Episode sponsor This episode is brought to you by Nourisher. Formerly known as Milkful Nursing Bars, the company has rebranded and expanded to bring you new bars. New flavors to meet all of your needs throughout the motherhood journey. Nourisher products are made to “nourish her.” Each of the products are super nutrient dense while still being a very tasty snack that moms can look forward to. Their delicious flavors include Blueberry Coconut, Chocolate Banana, Maple Walnut, Papaya Turmeric, Spirulina Ginger, and Strawberry Rosehip. Let’s talk about flavor. My favorite, guys? Strawberry Rosehip hands down. Not only are these bars delicious and tasty, but they have amazing benefits for both you and your baby in the pre and postnatal stages. They increase your energy. They support tissue repair and brain building. They improve gut health with fiber, probiotics and healthy fats. They give you a nutritional lift from sprouted grains and seeds that provide essential nutrients. They are packed with superfoods like turmeric, spirulina, and rosehip to support a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation throughout the pregnancy and postpartum stages. Go ahead and give Nourisher a try. You can get right to them by clicking the link in our show notes or going to thevbaclink.com/go/nourisher. Give them a try. You will not regret it. Jill’s story Meagan: Okay, you guys. It’s podcast Wednesday and Jill has an awesome episode for you. Jill, we’re going to turn the time over to you to share your amazing story and then let us pick your brain at the end. Jill: Great. Thank you so much, Julie and Meagan. Thanks for having me. I am a VBAC mom. I had my first child in 2009. I didn’t have a doula. I didn’t really have a birth team set up. I went into it to see how it goes, kind of thing. I felt like an absolute goddess being pregnant, I’ll tell you that. But I always felt really deflated every time I left my prenatal appointments with my obstetrician. I felt like it was so run of the mill, going through the motions. I always felt really sad afterwards. I felt like, “Hey, I feel really great. I feel like I’m glowing. I feel amazing.” If I had a doula or if I had someone to talk to and download about it afterwards, that would have felt really nurturing to me. So I went along and my pregnancy was actually really great. I was healthy. I was strong. I never considered that I would have a C-section. I remember going through the hospital for the tour and the last stop was the operating room to show us expectant moms where it is and things like that. I was like, “Yeah, sure. I’ll look at it. But there’s no way. I’m just not going to have one.” My mother didn’t have one. My grandmother had ten babies and I just thought, “It’s not happening,” so I didn’t have any information about how to prepare for a C-section. Meagan: A lot of times in these prenatals, there isn’t really any education given on C-sections. First time moms go in to have this baby and they’ve heard about a C-section but they don’t really know what it entails. That’s something that could be added to prenatal care. Jill: Yes. I think so for sure. Based on conversations that I’ve had with women throughout the years, it’s the same thing. At least to have had it as part of the prenatal, that would have been helpful for sure. I guess I can just skip to the birth. Pretty uneventful pregnancy, it was fine. My baby was late. The first time around when you go over the 40 week mark, it’s like, “Oh my gosh. When is this going to happen, right?” I did end up going into spontaneous labor at 41 weeks. We just had my in-laws arrive from Scotland. They had planned their trip to come for when the baby was born. Since baby was late, they showed up on the day that I started going into labor. So I had a house full of visitors. I started in the middle of the night feeling the early signs of labor. I did some of the things that I learned in my prenatal classes-- moving around when I could, trying to lie down when it felt comfortable. I ran a bath. I sat in the bath for a little while and then the contractions started to get a little bit intense. My husband and I decided to go into the hospital, which was just around the corner, so really close. I got checked into triage. The part that always sticks out in my head was that the nurse that was there didn’t look at me. She had her head down and asked, “Are you having an epidural?” I was like, “Uh, I don’t know.” She was like, “Well, you don’t need one. But if you don’t get one now then the anesthesiologist might be busy so I would suggest that you say yes.” Julie: Oh my gosh, I hate when they do that. Meagan: It’s added pressure in a vulnerable moment. Even if you didn’t plan on that, you feel vulnerable and think, “Well, what if I end up wanting one and they’re not here?” I don’t like that. Jill: There was another woman that was laboring in the room and it was quite intimidating. I could hear her. She was pretty close, I think, to giving birth. The nurse then said, “So that woman there, that’s not her first baby. You can hear she’s going through some painful contractions. So if she’s feeling pain, what do you think you’re going to feel?” So I was like, “Wow. Okay.” Julie: Labor and delivery nurses-- I don’t think they mean ill intent when they say these things. I think they’re really trying to be helpful. But there should be a class about tact in the birth room. Maybe not. But I’ve heard things like that in the birth room. What are you supposed to say as a parent and you’re a first time mom? It’s so frustrating. Jill: Yeah. That’s it. All of those things led to me getting an epidural, but I was only at 4 centimeters. Knowing what I know now, that was quite early. But for me, at that stage, it felt really painful. I had never felt anything like that before, so it felt like, “Oh yeah. I want this pain to go away. I want to be more comfortable.” I got that epidural administered and then was hooked up to the IV, the machines, and all the things. I was strapped in and lying down on my back. From there, I continually was progressing and I did dilate. I don’t have the notes with me right now, but long story short, eventually, I got to the point where baby was going into distress. They had to insert that fetal scalp electrode. I just felt like a rag doll. At the beginning, when the epidural was administered, it worked really well. For some women it doesn’t work really well and they still feel the contractions. But I felt nothing and I thought, “Oh, this is cool. I’m going to lie here and the baby is going to come. Wow!” I just had no idea. Then there were more interventions. There was the fetal monitor, then baby was in distress. They were giving me oxygen, then there were several doctors, students, nurses, and more students coming to observe me. That moment is so clear in my mind when I’m lying in the bed with the oxygen mask and I have what felt like eight people surrounding me. I’m freaking out and my husband’s like, “It’s okay,” but we’re like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” That was quite scary. But I did get to the point where I was 10 centimeters and was able to push with directed pushing. I didn’t feel anything, so I was going based on what the labor and delivery nurses were telling me to do as my feet were up in stirrups and still lying on my back. I spent hours doing that. Eventually they were able to lift me up and put me over one of those bars where I was sitting upright to try and get some gravity on my side. Then they started talking C-section at that point because I was pushing for about two hours and because he was in distress. I kept asking for more time. I asked for another hour and then after that third hour, they could see his head. I remember them bringing a mirror and you could see the head, but he wasn’t far enough down that they could use a vacuum or forceps. That led to that moment where I had to sign off for surgery. I still feel quite emotional just remembering. Meagan: That was a hard moment. Jill: Yeah. Then wheeled into surgery. As C-section moms, we all know that feeling. It feels really cold when you go into that operating room and everything is very quiet, very eerie. Everybody’s in their full scrubs and it’s a scary place. I was shaking at that point. I think there was something about the drugs they administer to you and they have to strap your arms down. I remember shaking and I felt very nauseous. When they did the surgery, it was quite a weird feeling. Because my son was descending down the birth canal, they actually had to pull him out. So his head came out in that cone kind of way. Julie: You kind of had to recover from a vaginal birth and a Cesarean at that point. Jill: It was almost that way, right? He was very large. He was 9 pounds, 4 ounces. Knowing what I know now, birthing a 9 pound, 4 ounce baby on your back, for 18 hours… Meagan: It doesn’t leave a lot of room for baby to get down in the right spot. Jill: I didn’t know much about birth until after that moment and I did my research. I was like, “What was that? Why did that happen?” I blamed myself a lot and I went through a lot of really negative emotions. I felt very disappointed. I felt ashamed. I felt really ashamed. I didn’t expect that I would have a C-section and I didn’t like that I felt ashamed to tell people that. It was really confusing. It was a crazy start to motherhood. I absolutely adored my son. Thankfully we bonded well with breastfeeding and skin to skin, but I remember those nights that I stayed in the hospital. It was really quite traumatic. There are lots of other details, but I think that’s mainly the gist of it. After that, it really drove me to research and find out why. I got a hold of my records of my birth to find out what actually happened, what led to it. Megan: Which is such a good idea to do. It’s really important to get those records. We encourage all of our personal clients to do that. Jill: Yeah, I found it really helpful. Then you can research and you can find out what all these terms mean. In the moment, you’re not really absorbing all the terminology that they’re throwing at you. You’re just scared. There’s the shock that takes over and you can’t absorb anything. Even in a straightforward labor, you’re not taking in information. I did a lot of work with the resources that were available at the time. It was 2009. I ended up stumbling into home birth which wasn’t anything I would ever have thought I would get into. I didn’t know anybody who had home births. I was actually quite intimidated by the thought of a home birth. But my research led me there. I started to really get into that world, which is quite an interesting place to be and a lot to learn there. I guess that’s what led me to want to be a doula because I’m reading all of these amazing books written by midwives and I thought, “I would love to be able to support somebody in a way that…” Meagan: The way you wish you had been able to be supported? Jill: Exactly, because I know exactly what I would have done for myself back then. That was part of my healing too. Like I said earlier, I really beat myself up a lot. It’s so common for moms who have unplanned C-sections or planned C-sections as well. As I did my research and I learned more, I started to forgive myself. I thought, “I did the best I could with what I had.” I didn’t know anything about epidural other than that it takes the pain of labor so I’m like, “That can’t be bad.” After I learned what I did in my doula training, I’m like, “Oh, so maybe 4 centimeters was a bit early.” If I had somebody there to support me for a few more hours to get to seven or eight centimeters, maybe the epidural would have been a great thing for me. So I was able to slowly heal from some of that negativity that I was holding onto and that shame and that disappointment. I could see my C-section as the catalyst for change in my life that helped to guide me towards birth work. I’m thankful for it in that way. Meagan: I feel you. It’s kind of the same. I had two C-sections before I landed into the birth world but even though they were not my desired birth or my desired choice, I would not have changed anything because it led me to where I am today. Julie: Me too. Jill: Then for my first VBAC, I waited 18 months because that was the recommended time. I don’t know if there is one recommended time, but for me, it was the 18 month wait after my first C-section to then try and get pregnant with my second child. I did that and then thankfully we got pregnant easily. I set myself up right away with midwives. In Canada, we have a public healthcare system which is great, but also stressful because you have to get your care provider the day you pee on the stick. You cannot mess around. I got myself into a really great midwifery practice right from the beginning. I was planning a home birth. I felt that was the best place for me. The midwives at this practice were supportive and actually really loved working with VBAC moms. I was in really, really good hands. Just the way life goes, my husband got transferred to Melbourne, Australia for work. So when I was six months pregnant with my second child, we moved to Australia. Julie: Oh my gosh! I love Australia, but what a horrible time to move to another country. Jill: I know. We had actually been there already temporarily before my pregnancy and then we came home for a bit. I knew it was coming so it wasn’t completely out of the blue at the point, but I did have to navigate a completely new healthcare system there in Australia. Julie: Australia is completely different for Cesarean, VBAC and birth in general. It’s a completely different mindset even from the United States. Different parts of Australia have different birth cultures as well. It’s something I’ve been interested in learning more about, actually. When Meagan and I upgrade our VBAC van to a VBAC jet-- we’re dreaming really big right now. We’re going to have a VBAC Link jet and then fly to Australia and figure out the Australia birth world, VBAC, Cesareans, all that. And maybe we’ll go doula some people in the Outback. That would be awesome. I’m dreaming big. This is like, 50 years down the road if we’re still kicking around. Jill: That’s great to dream big. Julie: I’m going to stop talking now. Go on with your story. Jill: I’ve never lived in the States but I can imagine Australia’s system to be a mixture of the United States and Canada because they do have public healthcare and private. It’s a nice little hybrid which was good for us because we weren’t residents of Australia so public health care, we still had to pay for anyway. We actually went private and I actually hired private midwives because the midwives there at that point weren’t covered under public healthcare like they are in Canada. I found some great midwives supporting my VBAC home birth. Everything was great. Totally crazy that we now lived down under. We were in Melbourne. It was a great city and I was in good hands. My husband took a little bit more time to get adjusted to the home birth, but we managed to come to an agreement. We planned the home birth and there was a concern that I had a front lying placenta early on in the pregnancy, so I just needed to get an ultrasound at about 36 weeks to check on that. I got some more interesting news at that ultrasound which was that my baby was breech. Meagan: Not always a fun thing to find out. Jill: No. And that’s the thing from my experience with my second child. I went to the ultrasound by myself and my husband was at the pool with my son. It was like, “Oh, you know. It’s all good. You go play with him. I’ll go to the ultrasound and meet you later.” Oh God, could I have used somebody there with me. I obviously did not expect that either. Breech? What? I was a complete hot mess after finding that out. But my midwives were totally cool and they were like, “That’s okay. You’re only 36 weeks. Lots of babies are breech. They do somersaults. They go all around. It’s no big deal.” They were able to help me calm down and explore options. Then I was into a whole other level of not just VBAC, I was then looking into breech which is a little bit more frightening when you look on the internet about breech birth. This was in 2011 when breech was considered very high risk and almost always a C-section. I was quite devastated because I was so scared of having another C-section. So I did all of the things. Spinning Babies-- I was lying down every day with my ironing board propped up on my couch. You lie down on your back with your head down and your feet up. Julie: The Breech Tilt, yes! Jill: Yep. Lots of hands and knees, doing all of the cat-cow hands and knees positions. I did everything. I did handstands in the pool which got me some pretty weird looks at the public pool. I did chiropractic care specifically for breech. I did Moxibustion, an acupuncture procedure where they put these needles in your pinky toes and then they have this charcoal cigar-lit thing that lights up and heats up the needle in your toes. I did all the things. She was not having it. She remained in the breech position. Julie: That’s frustrating after you do all that work. Jill: I know. The private/public system actually worked in my favor because I ended up getting in with an obstetrician in Melbourne who specializes in high risk. He does breeches, twins, VBAC’s, so he took me on as one of his patients. He was really great. I still had my midwives too but they weren’t able to be my primary care providers in the hospital because of the breech. It was more like she was a doula to me which was really great too. With breeches, the rule for my obstetrician was an eight hour labor or less but if it goes over eight hours then there is probably something going on. Julie: Well, that’s not fair. Lots of labors are longer than eight hours. Jill: Yeah. That was scary and no epidural. There were a bunch of other rules, but eight hours was the limit. She was late too. She was about six days overdue. I started to feel the discomfort in the evening. I went to bed. I woke up sometime in the middle of the night, sometime between midnight and 2:00 am. I thought, “I’m going to get up now. We’re going to move around.” My husband was making oatmeal. We called the midwife to let her know I was starting to feel the early stages of labor. By about 3:00 am, I said to my husband, “You have to call the midwife NOW.” She was asking him, “Ask Jill to rate between 1 and 10 the intensity of the contractions.” It was literally, “7. Okay, no 8. Okay, no 9. No, 10.” It came that quickly. I got into the shower. Then interestingly enough, there was meconium coming out of me because my baby was in the breech position so bum down. Julie: That way baby doesn’t get aspirated. Jill: It’s crazy, right? That was freaky. We still had to get to the hospital because I still wasn’t having that home birth. It was very fast. That was 3:00 in the morning, then we had to rush off to the hospital. I was that woman. No seatbelt, I was holding myself up with my hands, my arms fully straight, like, “This baby’s coming!” She was coming. When we got into the maternity ward, the nurses welcomed me. I remember them talking to me so sweetly saying, “It’s okay, honey. You’re just having a contraction.” I’m like, “Ugh, yeah. Okay.” When they checked me, the bum and the legs were coming. They were coming. They had to get me to wait until the obstetrician came because she was breech. So they had to wait for him to come. He lived about a five minutes drive away. We had the breathing and the “look deep into my eyes”. I think everybody was a bit panicked. This was a two hour labor. It started at about 3:00, then about 5:15 in the morning, I was directed to push. I really wanted to stand up. That was my urge-- to stand up, but I did have to go on the bed. Everything was moving. Everything was coming anyways. It didn’t really make a difference. But I think for me, with my first birth, I just was like, “I don’t want to lie down.” She was born bum first, then legs popping out. Then you see that the body is there and the head is still the last to birth. When she was born and they placed her on my body, she was upside down. It was the feet up at my chest. So that’s the way she was born. Meagan: That’s awesome. I didn’t realize that your first VBAC was breech. Jill: Yeah. She was a breech baby. That was that birth. It was a healing birth for me. It was a stressful birth. The lead up to it, with it being a VBAC and with being breech-- but I could see what my body was capable of. That’s what really healed me. I was quite surprised with how quick the labor was, just the two hours, really. Julie: That’s super fast for a first time vaginal birth and for a breech baby. That’s super speedy, as my four year old would say. Jill: Yeah. But it’s funny because I think the personalities shine through. My daughter now is going to be nine and I’m like, “Of course you were born breech. Of course you were born the complete opposite way than most.” Julie: I agree 100 percent with that sentiment, I really do. Jill: She’s our cannonball. She bursts into the scene all the time. I’m like, “Well, that’s how you were born.” It makes sense. Then my son, who was the C-section, we have to drag him out everywhere. So I’m like, “Oh yeah, you wanted to stay. You were good. We had to pull you out.” Meagan: That’s so funny how they all fit their births. Jill: For sure. Then for my third birth, we stayed in Australia for a couple more years after that, almost three years after my daughter was born. We got transferred back to Canada, but to a completely different part of Canada. As you know, Canada is a huge country. I was then home kind of, but still a four hour plane right from my home. Still quite foreign, but the same healthcare system and things like that. I planned a home birth again for my third birth and had really amazing midwives again and very supportive and really, really loved working with VBAC moms. I think I always shock people when I tell them about my birth story of my second child. They’re like, “Hold on, what? A VBAC and a breech? Okay, wow.” Then they knew about me having a really quick labor for my second child. So they were expecting another quick labor. For my third birth, she completely surprised me and came ten days early. My first was seven days late. My second was six, so I thought she was going to be five days late. I don’t know, I just couldn’t think any other way, but she was ten days early. Completely different scenarios. We have two kids now, almost six and three, planning a home birth so we didn’t have anywhere to go. It was Easter Sunday. We did the Easter egg hunt in the morning. At about 10:00 in the morning I said, “I think, maybe, could you send the kids over to the neighbors to play?” Because I thought I might like to have the kids there for the birth, but then when I got down to it, I said, “I think I need to just not have to think about that so let’s send them over to the neighbors to have some space.” Contractions got pretty intense at about 11:00 in the morning. I was pacing up and down in my bathroom. Again, similar to the first birth, I said, “Contractions are getting pretty intense.” I said to my husband, “You’d better call the midwife.” The midwife was like, “Well, what’s going on?” And literally, as she was on the phone, my body just couldn’t help itself and I went straight into pushing. My husband was there on the phone. Meagan: Wow. Jill: I know. He had had a shower earlier and left his towels on the floor. Which, we get so upset with our husbands for doing stuff like that, but I’m like, “Oh wow, so you left the towels on the floor,” and that was where our daughter was born, just right on those towels in the bathroom with the midwife on the phone. She was able to hear her first cry. She knew it was good. She didn’t have to call the ambulance or anything like that. She just said, “I’m going to come over as soon as I can.” She was coming from the hospital from another birth just ten minutes away. So she came and showed up. She was so cool. She was so calm. She was so like, “Everything is great. Everything’s fine.” She ran my bath for me. I had my daughter with me and my placenta was still attached. I still hadn’t birthed the placenta yet. She got me through that. It was just amazing. It was another very healing experience for me. Very shocking. Meagan: It sounds amazing though. Sounds like a lot, but amazing. Jill: Yeah. Unplanned, right? Not expecting that. That was a one hour labor from start to finish. Meagan: You have an amazing cervix. Your cervix is like, “Listen, I’m ready and when I’m ready, I mean I’m READY.” Jill: We’re done now. I said to my husband, “Listen, if we’re going to have another baby, it’s going to be a Walmart baby. Seriously, I won’t even make it home. I don’t want that. We’re good.” Meagan: That is crazy. And then there’s a cervix like mine that takes days and days and days. I always told my husband that we should have another one because I want to know what my cervix would do now that it’s done it. Julie: We are still holding out hope that there will be another Heaton baby. Meagan: It’s not looking like it. Julie: I know, but I am still hoping. You know my plan for you. Meagan: Oh my gosh. So C-section, breech, VBAC, unassisted, unplanned home VBAC for your second VBAC. Holy smokes, what a ride. Well, thank you so much for sharing. I know we have a few more minutes. I would love to talk more about the coaching. Tell us more about what you’re learning, how people could find that or how you found that, how people can find you and all of the things. Julie: And how that’s different from doula support. Jill: I trained with the Birth Coach Method, it’s called. My teacher was called Mary Life Trauma. She was a doula for years and then trained to be a life coach. She’s merged birth support work with life coaching. It’s different from what a doula would provide because it’s not about giving information about birth, although you can if your client requests that, but it’s more about getting to her belief system about what she holds true about birth. You’re using coaching tools and asking really strong questions to get to planning your most optimal birth experience. Normally, a doula would offer maybe two or three prenatal visits and one or two postnatal. I’m not sure. There’s a range. For coaching, it would be six prenatal visits of one hour long and two postnatal. We’re really getting a full picture of where she is in her pregnancy. Things around relationships, with support systems, nutrition, health. Just getting a full picture of where she’s thriving and where there’s challenges-- ways that we can come up with establishing goals for how she can be at a 10 in a certain area as opposed to a 5. How can we get her feeling empowered? Also, there is a component of understanding her reality-- what sort of health conditions she has or if she has any personal issues or anything that’s getting in the way of her reaching her goals. Then you can work on finding different options to reach her goals and then, just like with life coaching, there’s always action steps. There’s always a way forward. The coach is helping the client to stay accountable to their goals. When you’re working with your client, most likely in the third trimester, you’re giving an action assignment and then you’re checking in with them saying, “How are you doing with XYZ?” It’s just really about empowering and inspiring the client as opposed to teaching or educating. It’s not about giving more information. It’s about pulling back the layers of yourself to see what you hold true within you. Julie: That’s interesting. Do you attend the birth or not? Jill: Either way. Meagan: Can you extend that option? Can they be like, “Okay, I really want to have you attend my birth?” Julie: But it’s not necessarily a part of what a birth coach would do unless you’re specifically requested for that, right? Or is that what I’m understanding? Jill: Yes. That’s it. I think it’s an interesting time right now because of COVID. Some hospitals can have doulas, some can’t. There’s so much confusion, right? So I think it’s a nice alternative at the moment to then get all the support that you need to feel ready even if the doula cannot be there to attend your birth. Julie: It sounds like a really valuable toolset to have even as a doula. I’ve heard it said by one of the midwives that have been on our podcast before that two prenatal visits as a doula is not enough. It’s just not enough. I usually end up spending a lot more time with my clients than the two one and a half hour prenatal visits because, especially with VBAC, there’s just so much to do. I’ve been trying really hard to know how to reconcile that. Anyways, I’m not going to brain dump right now on you, but it sounds like this could be a way to supplement that and help add value to what you’re bringing to the birth community and your individual clients. Maybe they don’t want a doula at their birth but they do want some help in figuring out what birth looks like and feels like to them and how to gain that confidence. It sounds really cool. Jill: Yeah, it is really cool. I think it’s like 20 years ago or whatever when people didn’t really know what a doula was and they’re like, “What’s a doula?” It seems like it’s that kind of way with birth support coaching. People are like, “What is that? I’ve never heard of that.” So we’re just working on trying to get the word out so people know that it’s available. It’s just in the early stages, but I’m really excited. Julie: That’s really cool because you could technically take clients all over the world. I just supported, informally, somebody in India last night to have her VBAC because she knew all of the doulas in her area and she didn’t feel comfortable having one of them be her doula. I was on Facebook Messenger helping her feel supported until her team got there. Maybe I’m saying too much information because it’s illegal to have a home birth in the country that she’s birthing in. I think I already said the name of the country. So it was a really cool experience to be able to be involved that way even though she is halfway around the world from me. It sounds like something that can be done virtually as well where you don’t necessarily even need to be in person. Is that right? I don’t know if that’s part of the program. I know there’s a specific training. Meagan: That’s really cool. Super, super cool. I’ll have to check that out. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of your amazing stories. Q&A Julie: Questions! Meagan: Oh yes! Guess what. I always forget. We have questions for you. We asked in your submission when you submitted. I don’t know if you remember answering them, but one of them is, what is a secret lesson or something no one really talks about that you wish you would have known ahead of time when preparing for birth? Jill: For my first birth, it’s definitely the importance of a supportive birth team. Hands down. For sure, that would be my answer. Meagan: Awesome. Then the other one is, what is your best tip for someone preparing for a VBAC? Jill: My best tip is really sitting with and naming your emotions that you have about any emotional scars that you have after your C-section because I think the emotional healing is unexpected. I think it takes time. It takes quite a lot of time. Really pointing out those negative emotions, naming them, really sitting with them and being able to really talk about your birth story-- and be held and validated in all of your feelings, not rushed off by the classic, “Healthy baby. That’s the best outcome.” You know? Megan: Definitely. I think working through all of those things prior can really help the next birth just in general to go smoother. Because for me, there was actually a lot of stuff I didn’t realize I hadn’t worked through and then I had to work through it right then in labor. It was really hard to have to backpedal a little bit to work through all of that. Alright, well thank you, thank you. You are just darling and we are so glad that you were with us today. Jill: Thank you so much. It was nice talking with you. Thank you for having me, Julie and Meagan. Closing Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.
36 minutes | a month ago
148 Julie and Meagan Chat About Life and Birth
We have both been so busy with moving, remodeling kitchens, parenting, soccer, gymnastics, being a good wife, (trying to do) self-care, record podcasts, keep up with business, and EVERYTHING that we haven't even been able to catch up with each other. So, we decided to have a fun episode about life and what's been going on with us and the different births we have attended. You will be sure to get to know us a little better and have fun while we shoot the breeze. Birth topics we discuss: Our doula careers at @tinyblessingsdoulaservices and @juliefrancombirth Overcoming emotions as birth approaches How we feel as doulas when our clients don't get the birth they prepared for Inappropriate things we have heard providers/staff say to parents in labor Video content on our YouTube Channel Clearing our minds as doulas and for parents as we enter the birth space Releasing fears and emotions Our signature course How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents Episode Sponsor: This episode is brought to you by our very own VBAC Doula Certification program! Find out more about how to support parents who have had a Cesarean in the most effective ways at thevbaclink.com. Full Transcript Julie: Good morning, women of strength. It is Julie and Meagan here today and we are just going to talk because we have both been so busy moving, remodeling kitchens, doulaing parenting, soccer, gymnastics, trying to be a good wife somewhere in there… Meagan: And still trying to do self-care. Julie: And podcasts. We really haven’t even had a chance to catch up with each other and find out what we’ve been doing birth-wise, doula-wise and things like that. So we wanted to have a fun episode where we talk about life, different things that are going on with us, some births we’ve attended and different things like that. Hang along the ride with us. You’ll get to know us a little bit better and brain dead Julie, man. That’s my life right now. But first, before we do that, Meagan has a review of the week. Review of the week Meagan: Yes I do. This is actually from Google, so I was excited to see this. We are on Apple Podcasts and that’s probably where we get the most reviews. But this one is from Google and it’s from Hannah Troyer, Doula. Her subject is “5 Million Stars”. She says, “If I could give the VBAC Link 5 million stars, I would. It’s just that good. I have been a doula for three and a half years now and have supported multiple VBAC mamas. The evidence-based information, positive attitude, professionalism, education, encouragement and JOY I have received from Julie and Meagan leave me at a loss for words. I have tried to listen and read other podcasts, blogs, and trainings done by other doulas and most of them have left me with a bad taste in my mouth. As soon as I stumbled into the VBAC Link podcast, I could hear the joy of the doulas who actually LOVE their jobs. This was the first step into grabbing my attention and eventually making me fall in love with you two. Your podcasts are so educational and it brings a smile to my face every time I hear your voices. I could listen to them over and over. I am grateful I found the incredible source of information on VBAC’s. I am sharing it with everyone I know. Thank you, thank you, thank you VBAC Link.” Julie: Aw, that makes me so happy. Meagan: Yes. We do love our jobs. We love our lives, even though they’re crazy. And we do love bringing this podcast to you guys. The stories, the people that we meet all over the world. It’s just been so much fun over the last couple of years. Julie: Oh my gosh. It’s been two and a half years. I can’t even believe it. Meagan: Crazy, right? We’ve come a long way. Thank you so much, Hannah. We’ll dive right into the episode. Episode sponsor Julie: Birth workers, listen up. Do you want to increase your knowledge of birth after a Cesarean? We created our advanced VBAC doula certification program just for you. It is the most comprehensive VBAC doula training in the world perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced video course. This course is designed for birth workers who want to take their VBAC education to the next level so you can support parents who have had a Cesarean in the most effective ways. We have created a complete system, a step-by-step road map, that shows exactly what you need to know in order to support parents birthing after a Cesarean. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more information and sign up today. That’s thevbaclink.com. See you there. Doula careers Julie: Alright. It’s been a little while since we’ve had chitter chatter. Meagan: I know. This is going to be a really random episode for you guys, catching up with what we’re up to. Julie: Why don’t you tell a little about yourself, Meagan? Then I will share a little about me and we’ll see where we go. Meagan: A little bit about myself. Crazy, all the time. I for some reason, like to be an energizer bunny with a half-full battery. Even today, recording podcasts, I’ve had to bail four times because I’ve had the paint people here, the countertop people here and the appliance people coming. All the things. I’m always crazy and I love projects. I struggle when my life doesn’t have a project in it. I have three kids and they keep us pretty busy. They’re all in soccer right now, so Saturdays look like us being at the soccer field all day long, because they’re each an hour plus games and we’re going from back to back to back. Then my daughter’s in gymnastics, and my other daughter is in dance. It’s been so much fun. They’re all out of the house a couple days a week because they’re all in school. That’s been really different for me, but honestly really fun. I get to do self care, work, do podcasts, go do prenatal cares with my clients, things like that. It’s been super fun. That’s kind of what we’re up to. Always crazy and going. My husband has been quite the trooper for supporting me through all of it. Julie: Don’t forget, Meagan the doula, supported her husband while he was in law school by being a doula. She’s awesome. Meagan: Yes. Doula life was crazy there for a little bit. But it’s been awesome. It’s been nice to take a little step back. Last month, I only had one client due. It was really nice to be here and take care of the family. Julie: I think taking breaks is so important as a doula. Meagan: Yeah. It’s how you avoid burnout. Julie: Totally. I’m Julie, mom of four. I had four kids in a little less than five years. Not on purpose. I mean, well, you kind of half to do certain things to get pregnant, obviously. But the timing of baby number three-- she wanted to come sooner than we were planning. So, we have them all squished, right together. Currently their ages are seven, five, four, and two and a half, which is much better than when they were four, two, one, and a newborn. That was nuts. That was really nuts. But it all works out. It’s fine. Sometimes you hear kids running around in the background when I’m recording podcasts. That’s just the way it has to be during the digital age of quarantine and coronavirus. I also have a dog and a husband. My kids do soccer, just my two boys. One of my daughters is enrolled in gymnastics. Then the two and a half year old destroys everything in the house. That’s her hobby. My kids are very creative and problem solvers. I get caught off guard a lot by them-- which is probably a good way to say it. I am an Army veteran, computer geek, data junkie, very analytical, and I just moved. Same town, really exciting move. I am really excited, actually. We’re getting everything unpacked and unloaded still. I feel like lately my life copies Meagan’s. Whatever Meagan is doing, my life will naturally get there. She was remodeling her kitchen while I was looking at houses and then I kept coming back to this house with an ugly kitchen. An ugly, ugly kitchen. We even called it the “ugly kitchen house”. My seven year old was like, “We’re not moving to the ugly kitchen house, are we?” Then my four year old would say, “It’s a beautiful house!” Then Meagan got me in contact with her kitchen guy. Now we are moved in. We are remodeling the kitchen as well. Meagan’s my hero. We each have our own doula businesses, too. Let’s do a plug-in. Tiny Blessings Doula Services is Meagan’s doula company and she has a partner that she runs her doula business with. My doula business is called Julie Francom Birth. You can find us both on Instagram and Facebook. We would love the “likes” if you want to “like” us. Overcoming emotions leading up to birth Meagan: If you want to follow our personal doula careers, check us out. This month, I have a lot of VBAC’s coming up, actually. So it’s quite exciting. At Tiny Blessings, we do a lot of first time moms, fifth time moms, but it seems like we go in spurts where we’ll have no VBAC’s, then the whole month is VBAC. It’s so fun. But it also brings a busy month because, as a VBAC parent, there’s a lot of stress that comes in the very end. Do you find that, Julie, with your clients? Julie: Yeah, a lot of emotion. Meagan: It’s a lot of emotional stress at the end. It can be heavy, but it’s fun. It’s not fun to be stressed for them, but it’s fun to work through it with them because when it comes down to the birth, we’re that much closer with our clients because we’ve been able to work through the nitty-gritty with them. Julie: I think that with VBAC parents, it’s definitely a little more natural to fall into that more intimate knowledge of them. But I’ve had a really strong connection with a recent first time mom and I had a four-peat client, so a client that’s been with me four times. My last three births, which have actually been in the last four weeks, have been a four-peat client, so her fourth baby with me as her doula, a VBAC, then a VBAC attempt that ended in a repeat Cesarean. It’s really fun because I love connecting with these people. Even the repeat Cesarean mom, she entered into her Cesarean smiling. She was so happy, laughing and confident. We created a really great environment for her. Her midwife was very supportive. It was night and day difference, she had said, from her first Cesarean to her second-- how she felt more supported and she felt like she was the one making the decisions. Meagan: Which is a powerful thing. Julie: It really is. It’s really different to go from an experience where you feel completely out of control and that decisions are being made for you to being an active decision maker in your care and being the final one to say, “Okay, let’s do this.” Even if your provider is offering you all different types of suggestions and things like that, being able to be the one to say, “Okay, let’s do it,” instead of your doctor being the one to say, “Well, we need to do this now.” It’s great and I love it. That mama was wheeled into that Cesarean with a big smile on her face and wheeled out of it with a great, big smile on her face. It was a totally, completely different experience for her. That makes me happy. When clients don’t get the birth they prepared for Julie: I’m always sad when somebody doesn’t get their VBAC. It always makes me sad, especially when I’m sitting alone in the empty birth room whenever I’m not allowed in the operating room. You sit there and reflect, “Did I do enough? What could I have done differently?” I put a lot of responsibility on myself. But I know that a lot of these things are not in my control and that I support the best that I can. I’m always sitting there questioning and trying to see what we could have done differently. It’s kind of a lonely time when you’re just waiting. But coming back and seeing them so happy-- baby was so happy, and dad was so happy. It makes my heart more full when I can see that. Meagan: Any birth workers out there, you may be able to relate. If things don’t go exactly as planned or desired, we sit back there and we take it home. It’s hard not to take it home with us and question, “Could we have done something more?” It’s my absolute favorite when the client says, “Yeah, it didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it to. However, that was the most healing experience for me and I wouldn’t have changed it.” You know? Because they were in control, or because they felt like they were advocated for, or they were given options and they were able to make the decisions. It’s a powerful thing to be as in control as you can in a birth situation. Julie: I agree with that. That’s actually a number one indicator about whether someone will have post-traumatic stress related to birth. It’s not necessarily the birth outcome as much as whether they felt like they were listened to, heard, and that they were a decision maker in their care. Even VBAC’s, you can have post-traumatic stress disorder if you feel like you weren’t in control of what was being done to you or what was happening to you, as much as you can be in control with birth. But I mean as far as the decisions go, your care team, and all of those things. Inappropriate comments said during labor Julie: I’m going off on a little bit of a tangent, but can we talk about inappropriate things that we have heard providers, nurses, or hospital staff say to parents while they are in labor? Do you want me to start? Meagan: Yeah, go ahead. Julie: I actually had a client tell me that somebody had said this to her before, two years ago or so. But this same birth that I was just talking about, the nurse was a little rough around the edges. I think she was just really nervous about VBAC. There were two things she said that didn’t really sit very well with me. I know that she had good intentions. I want to preface it with that. I don’t think that this nurse had any ill intent or anything at all. But when my client was in labor, before it had been decided that she was going to have a repeat Cesarean, the nurse came in and she was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I come in here every time the baby falls off the monitor. I just get so nervous with TOLAC moms because I had one TOLAC mom, when her baby fell off the monitor, I came in to check on them and baby was outside of the abdomen and her uterus had ruptured. It was really scary and we had to do a repeat crash Cesarean.” She said this to my client while my client was laboring with a VBAC. So every time that baby dropped off the monitor, that nurse rushed in there as fast as she could. And now we knew why. I feel like part of that created a subconsciously stressful environment for my client. Every time the nurse would rush in, we would change positions, baby would fall off the monitor, nurse would rush in, and then there was all of a sudden that fear of uterine rupture again coming in with that nurse. The other thing she said-- I really had to bite my tongue, hard, during this speech she was making. Before my client was wheeled back for her Cesarean, they were getting everything prepped. The anesthesiologist was in there and everything. You know how they do. The nurse put her hand on my client. I really do think she was trying to be nice, kind and supportive. She said, “You know, sometimes things just have to go like this and we don’t know why. But we’re so grateful that we have these life saving measures like Cesarean birth. Because if this would have been 200 years ago, you and your baby would have died. You and your baby would have died if it was a couple hundred years ago. So we’re grateful that we have these Cesareans so that we can save your life and we can save your baby’s life.” Well, I’m not going to analyze that birth to death because I’ve been analyzing that birth to death in my head. 200 years ago, things would have been very different. I had a client who said a nurse had said that to her before, but hearing it directly come out of her mouth, I was like, “No. Not the right time. Very inappropriate.” Even if it WAS true. EVEN IF it was true. And who knows? Maybe it is true. I don’t know. But not the right time. Bad timing. That was hard. Meagan: I had a client, it was really hard. She had a different ethnicity. She was a VBAC. She was doing really well, actually. She just needed some more time and more support. They kept telling her that due to her ethnicity, the likelihood of her getting her baby out vaginally was extremely low, but the likelihood of her having rectal incontinence for the rest of her life was extremely high. They encouraged her to really think about if she was willing to poop her pants for the rest of her life for a vaginal birth. Julie: Oh my gosh! Meagan: Yeah. I was dying. I was sitting there cringing inside. “Due to her ethnicity.” Julie: Can we talk about ethnicity and inappropriate comments? I had a client who was a TOLAC and oh, this nurse. I love labor and delivery nurses. I think that they are undervalued. But I think that some of them don’t understand the impact that they have on the overall birth process. The vibe, the energy, and everything like that. I had a nurse once who still gives me the creepy crawlies every time that I talk about it. My client was Mexican and her husband was Mexican. They were born in Mexico and they were here working in the United States legally-- work visas, and everything. My client was a VBAC. But every time I would say the word “VBAC”, the nurse would look at me. I think she just had a problem with doulas. She must have had a bad run-in with a doula or something. I don’t know. But she would look at me and be like, “It’s a TOLAC.” And I was like, “Okay, TOLAC. I need to remember to call this a TOLAC.” So I would start trying to remember to say TOLAC instead of VBAC just so that we could get that negative tone out of the room. My client was very fluent in English and she understood English very well. But that nurse would speak to her like she was a kindergartener, with slow sentences. She said, “You have this. Do you know what that means? Do you understand what that means?” and my skin was crawling. This was probably one of my most educated clients that I have ever had. She was speaking to her like she was completely ignorant just because she had a really heavy Mexican, Hispanic accent. It was really frustrating. She was an older nurse. She had been around the block a time or two. She wouldn’t use the machine to administer the IV fluids. She preferred to let them drip instead of go through the machine. She thought it went better that way. They didn’t have the Monica Novii monitor, but when the next nurse came in, she said, “Oh, let’s get the Novii monitor out for you to use.” You could tell she was set in her ways, from an older generation. Especially in Utah, where we have a very, very, very high population of white people and not very much diversity, it was really hard to see her treat my client like that. It was hard. Meagan: It’s hard as a doula to see stuff like that and hear things. But as a doula, we have to stay professional and we have to respect the entire birth room. It can be hard and it can be super easy. It just depends on the staff and everything. Julie: I think it goes without saying that different personalities don’t vibe well together perfectly. As a doula, it’s very hard to change your personality to match the vibe of the staff’s personality and learn how to interact with them. Sometimes, you just can’t match your personality. But I do a pretty good job. I think that’s one of the only times that I have really not been able to be happy with a nurse. And not only be happy with, but I mean, be fun, and part as friends. You know what I mean? Leave feeling that everybody in the room was supportive and enjoyed the experience together and things like that. That one nurse was particularly hard. Clearing minds for the birth space Meagan: I wanted to touch really quickly on a couple of questions. This last week on Instagram, it was my weekend and I asked to have people ask me questions, and one of the really frequent questions that came through was how to prepare mentally and let go of past experiences. I wanted to talk on Julie’s Youtube video up on our channel on YouTube about releasing fear, tension and past experiences and things like that. Because I think it is so valuable and it’s something that you may have to do multiple times, but it’s something that can be very powerful during your preparation. I encourage you to not even wait until you are pregnant. Do it now and process what is going through your mind now. As more things come up, do those. Same thing with birth workers. We see a lot. We hear a lot. We go through a lot. I think it’s important to notice that for birth workers, there are a lot of things that we need to release because just like providers, we’ve talked about this before, providers see a lot of stuff. They see things that are amazing and things that are so scary. Sometimes they can let those experiences come into other people’s births. Julie: Yeah, like that nurse who kept coming in when the baby would drop off the monitor. Meagan: Exactly, and it’s hard. That’s life. It’s human. It’s normal. I have a very relative personality and so I tend to relate from my own experience to relate to people. So it’s so important for us in the birth space to keep other situations and other stories separate from what’s happening then. Now you can take those experiences as learning experiences and use them as a tool to certain points, but it’s so important to not bring either negative feelings or negative situations and things like that that you’ve seen into a new birth that is completely different. After I saw my friend who did rupture, I was nervous to go to my next VBAC because I was nervous that I was going to overanalyze things. Does that make sense? I didn’t want to make anything that was happening from my friend’s birth go into my mind and think, “Oh my gosh, maybe this client is rupturing too.” I feel very proud of myself. I would give myself a cookie for not carrying that in, but I was nervous that I would. Of course, my education and things like that have helped me not have that situation. Anyway, I just think it’s so important to go and do these fear clearing releases and things like that. So Julie, do you want to tell them where we can find those? Julie: The fear releasing activity video? Meagan: Yeah, on YouTube. It’s your video. You did it really well. YouTube video content Julie: Thanks. I love it. It’s a really fun fear release activity that you can do. It’s on our YouTube channel. You can go and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Our podcasts are also published to YouTube automatically, so if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, you’ll automatically get notified when a new podcast episode comes out there if that’s easier to watch than listen wherever you are listening right now. We also have it on our IGTV, videos on Instagram and I think it’s on Facebook somewhere, but probably the best place to find it would be on YouTube. It’s under the education playlist. Meagan: I’m going to look right now. I want to figure out exactly what you can type on YouTube. Painless fear release. Actually, you can just search the VBAC Link and it’s on there. It’s number four. VBAC Without Fear: 5 Minute Fear Release. So get on there, check it out. You’ll see cute Julie’s face, pretty much everywhere, because let’s be honest. I have been terrible at making videos and she has been amazing at making them. Releasing fears Julie: Do you know what else, Meagan, that I have figured out for getting emotions out? The nervous system, our brain and our body, the neurological system and the sympathetic nervous system, is that what it’s called? I don’t know, I’m not a brain junkie. But there are feelings and emotions stored in our body. Sometimes you don’t even know what those feelings and emotions are, but they need to get out. One of the ways for them to get out is by crying. Sometimes, if I don’t have time to do a full fear release with my client, or they don’t quite know what’s bothering them or what they would even write down, I just tell them, “Go do something that will make you cry.” Watch the Notebook. The Seven Minutes movie with Will Smith in it is the only time I have ever left a movie theater sobbing. Or, I don’t know, slow dance with your partner, or watch your wedding song or your birth video or whatever. Do something that makes you cry. Your body will do the rest. It will turn into this huge cry fest and emotional release for you. You don’t even have to write it down or burn it or do anything because your body will process it once that release starts. Pretty, pretty cool. Just cry. All you’ve got to do is cry about it and then it will be better. How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents But yes. The smokeless fire fear release. We have a fear release activity in our course for parents at How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents and you can find that on our website thevbaclink.com. But this is in addition to that. There is also a supplementary video in our course that you can find on our YouTube channel and it talks about a really cool, smokeless fire fear release. Basically you put Epsom salts and rubbing alcohol in a fire-proof bowl. I usually use a glass bowl. You light it on fire with a lighter. Obviously fire safety is encouraged. Then you shred up your paper that you have written down all of your thoughts on and burn it. It burns without smoke unless you have, like, eight people putting their papers in. Then there’s some smoke and you might set off a fire alarm when you’re doing an in-person class. Hypothetically. But it’s super fun and super easy. When you’re done you just flush it down the toilet. The Epsom salts dissolve in the water and it’s perfect. Meagan: Awesome. Is there anything else that you want to add for this really quick, random, short episode? Julie: This is something that is good for doulas and parents. Whenever you leave a birth, write it down on paper. Brain dump everything on your mind. It doesn’t have to be legible. Don’t go back and read it. Write it all out. Don’t proofread. Don’t worry about punctuation or capitalization or anything like that. Write it all down as fast as you can. Off load it from your brain and then destroy the paper. You can burn it using this five minute smokeless fire fear release. You can shred it up and throw it into the wind. You can flush it down the toilet, whatever you want. Just destroy it and then your brain creates this dopamine response. The brain dump, with the dopamine response by destroying it, actually causes your body and brain to process and heal the things that just happened. That would be my last tip. Meagan: We are going to start doing more of these where we randomly chat with you. We want to answer questions or talk about topics. If you have a topic that you would like us to touch on, send us a message either on Instagram or Facebook. We’ve got some that have come in and we’re going to get them rolling out on episodes here soon, probably towards the end of the year or the beginning of 2021. Holy cow, hopefully by then it’ll be a lot better than 2020. We are excited to keep talking to you about things you want to hear about. Julie: And as always, we love you and we believe in you. We are proud of you. Meagan: Do you want to do me a really quick favor? We are needing more reviews to read on the podcast. If you could go over to Google, Facebook, or wherever, leave us a review and let us know what you think of The VBAC Link. Julie: Do you know what else you could do? If you’ve taken our course, go to our course page on our website, thevbaclink.com and leave a review there. We should start reading some course reviews as a review of the week. Meagan: Yeah, let’s do it. Closing Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.
37 minutes | a month ago
147 Jennifer's CBAC + Crash Cesarean
Jennifer says: "In 2015, after 41 hours of labor, I ended up having a C-section. I was sad that my birth plan hadn't ended the way I wanted it to but so happy to meet my baby boy finally! Fast forward 3.5 years, a miscarriage and secondary infertility- I was yet pregnant again! I found the most VBAC friendly doctor in town, went to a webster certified chiropractor every other week, hired a doula, listened to ALL the VBAC podcast, and I was ready! I had prepared myself and my body for birth. I was 100% confident that I would accomplish a VBAC- so was my entire birth team! Then I found out my doctor was going to be on vacation for 1.5 weeks- I was pretty sure he would not be attending my delivery, which made me so sad since he was so VBAC positive. Labor started just after midnight on my due date. I progressed slow and steady- at the 25 hrs mark, my water broke, I was 8 cm dilated. My husband and I were so excited; my body was doing what it was MADE to do! "We were going to find out the gender of our baby soon! "Within 10 minutes, everything changed. Nurses and doctors rushed in. The baby's heartbeat couldn't be detected. The fear was that my uterus had ruptured, which is a slight risk you take when attempting a VBAC. My team decided that a crash C-section was necessary; it wasn't going to be a "gentle" section. I was going to be put under general anesthesia. My husband would not be able to attend the birth. I was put under terrified thinking about how I would tell my four-year-old that his brother or sister wasn't going to be coming home. Bad things weren't supposed to happen to rainbow babies. "My doctor acted swiftly, and he said he was able to remove my baby within 43 seconds of putting me under... 43 seconds! Thankfully, my uterus hadn't ruptured. The cord was wrapped twice around the baby's neck. When I saw my baby for the first time, I quickly noted the pink hat in her warmer and realized I was now a girl mom, which was so shocking because I thought it was another boy. "Soon after, the tears of joy went back to tears of sadness. Thankfully I had a great support system and reached out to a counselor right away. I knew that I wanted to sort my feelings about my failed VBAC and traumatic birth before those thoughts consumed me. I saw a counselor who specializes in postpartum issues four days after delivering my baby girl. She has helped me work through the fears of almost losing our baby and has been a tremendous asset in keeping my mental health in the right place." We go on to talk about the difference between a Crash Cesarean and an Emergency Cesarean, and why it is important to know the difference. You can find out more about How to Cope When You Don't Get Your VBAC on our blog. We want to thank this episode's sponsor, Betterhelp Counseling, whose mission is to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient - so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere. Get 10% off your first month by going to betterhelp.com/vbac. Full transcript Meagan: Hello, hello! You are with the VBAC Link with Meagan and Julie, and our friend Jennifer today. We’re excited to have her sharing her story. She is a CBAC. For anyone who doesn’t know what a CBAC is, it’s Cesarean birth after Cesarean. She was going for a VBAC, was getting so close, and had a turn in a completely different direction. We’re going to be talking with her today about her story and also splitting up the difference between an emergency C-section and a crash C-section. A lot of times, a non-emergent and emergent is jumbled into one. So we’re going to talk about the differences there. We’re really, really excited. Of course, Julie has our review of the week. I’m going to turn the time over to her to read that. Julie: Yeah, I’m really excited about this story. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We are not here to share just the sunshine and butterfly VBAC stories. If that’s what you want, and that’s okay if you want that, then this is probably not going to be one that you would want to listen to. But we encourage you, if you can, to take a minute to ground yourself and try and listen to the harder stories because VBAC, TOLAC, trying a vaginal birth, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes a repeat Cesarean is necessary, sometimes it’s wanted, and sometimes it’s an emergency, like a true emergency. Knowing the difference, like Meagan said, is really important between an emergency Cesarean and a crash Cesarean. This is sure to be a really vulnerable and raw story. I am so grateful to Jennifer for being willing to share that story today. Review of the week Before I do that, I’m going to share a review from hellomissbliss, on Apple Podcasts. Doesn’t that take you back to your high school days, Meagan? Miss Bliss? Saved by the bell? Totally there. So hellomissbliss, I’m going to read your review. The title is “Invaluable”. She says, “As soon as I had my C-section, I knew I wanted to VBAC for my future births. I searched other birth podcasts for VBAC stories specifically, and then one day I found The VBAC Link. The information, honesty, support, and evidence-based advice that Julie, Meagan, and their guests provide are invaluable. I make my husband listen and feel so much more empowered and secure in my decision to VBAC. I’m eight weeks pregnant now and I can’t wait to share my VBAC story next year. Thank you so much for this amazing resource.” Now we’ve got to do what we do. We calculate the dates. She was eight weeks pregnant on November 1st, so that’s two months. She probably just had her baby! In June. Hellomissbliss. If you had your VBAC, let us know. We would love to hear your story. Meagan: We are so excited to get started. I do want to give you a fair warning before we turn the time over to Jennifer. If you’ve been following our stories and my Friday updates, you know that I am completely under construction. My entire top floor, which is what’s above me, is under construction. We had to rip up all of our tile and they are prepping the floor to re-lay it right now. So you may hear hammering, you may hear sawing, you may even hear a dog bark, and I’m sorry. Just a fair warning. Julie: There’s always the chance of crazy kids. Meagan has one home and I have three at home. My two-year-old is currently resisting naptime, which should be coming up in about 45 minutes. So it’s just, you get what you get. Sometimes we’re good and sometimes we are a hot mess! Meagan: I just wanted to give that fair warning. If you hear the knocking, I am guilty. It’s me. But Jennifer, we’re so excited to have you here and we can’t wait to dive into your story. We’d love to turn the time over to you. Jennifer’s story Jennifer: Thank y’all so much. I guess I’ll start with my son, with my first C-section. I went into labor at 40 weeks, 5 days. I had a really great pregnancy, no real issues. I labored at home for 21 hours with a doula. We finally went to the hospital and I was only 1 centimeter. That was very discouraging, but I walked around and they ended up keeping me because I was able to get to 3. Long story short, it was about 35 hours that I had been in labor. I was about 8 centimeters and my doctor said my cervix was swollen. She said that we’ll try some Pitocin, but my baby didn’t handle the Pitocin well, so they stopped. I wasn’t really progressing after that. At about the 43-hour mark, she said I had to have a section. There was no talking to her, letting me have any more time or anything like that. She said it was just too swollen. It wouldn’t have happened. We had a C-section and it went very smoothly. My doula was able to be in the room with us. She took some great pictures. After delivery, he was perfect and we had a really good hospital stay. I knew after having him, though, that my first question was, “Okay, can I have a VBAC?” And of course, the doctor at the time was like, “We don’t even need to be talking about this right now. You just had a baby.” Life went on and it was okay. I wasn’t too sad. I knew I would have kind of like a redemption. I’d be able to try for a VBAC in a few years when we decided to have another child and we were hoping for that. A few years later, we were ready to have another baby. I had a miscarriage and then we had about 13 months of infertility. We finally were able to start an oral medicine to help us get pregnant. I got pregnant the first month, and I knew that I needed a VBAC friendly doctor. In my town, we really only have two, and one is much more VBAC friendly than the other, so I chose him. He was great. He said I had a really high chance of delivering the way I wanted to and that he didn’t see anything stopping us at the time. So I hired a doula again. I saw a Webster-certified chiropractor a few times a month-- pretty much throughout my whole pregnancy. It was a very textbook pregnancy. There were no signs that would indicate anything would happen. Then, I found out towards the end of my pregnancy that my doctor was going on vacation. He was going to be gone from when I was 39 weeks to 41 weeks. I knew at that point that my chances of a VBAC-- it was very discouraging knowing he wasn’t going to be there. But my doula calmed me down because the doctor who was going to be on call for him was the other VBAC friendly doctor in our town. That kind of helped me out a little bit. So I knew that I would be delivering with the other doctor. I had met him before, when I had my miscarriage, so I did vaguely know him. I was just going to wait and see what would happen. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to be induced. My doctor was giving me until 42 weeks. We were planning on riding it out until I went into labor naturally. At 40 weeks exactly, at 12:00 am, I went into labor. I guess early labor is what you’d say. My contractions started, but they were coming on really, really strong. They had always said, if you’re getting them less than five minutes apart, come in, because you are a VBAC candidate so we want to monitor you a little bit more. We went into the hospital after only a few hours of contractions and I was only one centimeter. We walked around. We got to about two or three centimeters, and they were like, “We will keep you,” but at that time, it was overnight. At our hospital, we have a hospitalist who sees you until early morning hours when you would see your regular doctor, as long as everything’s going as planned and smoothly. The hospitalist kept us and I continued to progress pretty well. I mean, very slowly. By about the 12-hour mark I think I was 5 or 6 centimeters, but it was still so much faster than with my son in my previous pregnancy. Everything was going well. The doctors I had were a little bit more VBAC tolerant versus okay with it, but they were letting me do what I wanted to do and labor on my own. They kind of just waited it out. I ended up getting an epidural and that helped progress me a little bit. They would turn me every two hours. They were doing minimal checks and everything was going smooth until about 2:00 am. I was about 8 centimeters, they had just checked me. The nurse had just come in to re-dose my epidural and my water broke. My husband and I just laughed. We were so excited because I finally felt like it was happening. I was getting my VBAC. My body was doing what it needed to do. I was on the right path. We knew that at 8 centimeters, if your water breaks, it’s going to progress pretty quickly, so we knew she was coming. About eight to ten minutes later, nurses swarmed into my room. I mean, we probably had about eight to ten in my room. They couldn’t find my baby’s heartbeat. They were trying to get me on all fours to try to figure out if it was just a positional thing or what. And that’s very hard when you’ve had an epidural and can’t move. I had people touching me in all kinds of places trying to turn me over. My doula had actually left. She had taken a little bit of a break because it was in the middle of the night. We had been progressing but it had been slow and she lived right by the hospital. Meagan: Can I just say, that’s a really awesome thing for you to have done? A lot of doulas burn out and they get so exhausted. They’ll be there for a really long time, but when things are moving slow and they’re not as necessary, it’s a really good idea to send your doula home or send her somewhere to go rest. That’s really, really good. Jennifer: For my first one, she was with us the whole time. She was a saint. I mean, she was literally with us for 40 something hours. Meagan: Doulas will power through. Jennifer: Yeah, so my doula this time had a few breaks. She was only a phone call away. I mean, she lived so close that it didn’t matter if she left for a little bit, because no one was expecting to have this baby super fast. So the hospitalist comes in. It was like he had been sleeping all night. He was very slow with his speech. He was like, “There seems to be a problem. We’re not quite sure what.” And I’m like, “Okay, you need to get my baby out if you can’t find the heartbeat.” So, thank God, my stand-in doctor, the on call doctor, has monitors at his house and also lives right near the hospital. And for whatever reason, at 2:00 am on this Saturday morning, he was awake and looking at the monitors. So before the nurses even had a chance to call him and tell him that something was wrong, he was already in his car on the way to the hospital. Meagan: That’s amazing. Jennifer: He barged into my room and it was literally like something out of a movie. He and this other doctor, the hospitalist, were arguing over what to do. From what I remember, the hospitalist was saying, “We’re going to take the baby out right here in the room”, and the on-call doctor was like, “No you’re not, the OR is right down the hall.” They’re arguing. The nurses are unplugging everything from the bed and trying to wheel me out of the room. They were able to find the heartbeat at one point, but it was only 30. So they were thinking that my uterus had ruptured and the doctors had agreed on that. Julie: Yeah, that’s a scary heartbeat. Jennifer: Yeah and then they couldn’t find it after that. They were basically screaming at me that it was a uterine rupture and I was thinking that it was all my fault, that I did this. I could have just had an easy C-section but I chose to do this. Because prior to this happening, earlier in the day, every time the doctors would come in, even the VBAC friendly one, they’d talk about it. “Well this is the risk. Are you sure you don’t want to just have a section? Are you sure you don’t want to have a little bit of Pitocin?” And I’m like, “No.” So I go in thinking that my baby has died. How am I supposed to tell my four year old that we don’t have a baby anymore? It was chaos. There was cursing, not by me, by the doctors and the staff, because I guess things just weren’t falling into place as quickly as they wanted it to. They were finally able to put me under and of course, I don’t know what happened after that. The doctor did tell me that from the time I was put out until my baby was here, it was only 43 seconds. They were able to get her out super quickly. And she was good. She was fine. Her APGARS were the highest they could be. She was okay. Now we know that the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, which was why her heartbeat was so low. Before my water had broken she had all that cushion to bounce off of, but once my water had broken, the cord was too tight. There was nothing for her to float around in, so that’s why it happened right after my water broke. Meagan: That makes sense. I was going to say, it’s like there’s a floodgate opening. They’re in this nice little hot tub, this floodgate opens, and they move. Water comes out, and it could have just gotten too tight. Did they try to change your positions or anything or was it just kinda like, “We’re going”? Jennifer: They did. That’s when they tried to get me on all fours before the doctor had come in the room. But because I had an epidural, it was just too hard to move. They didn’t really get a good response from that. They couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat. They tried checking me, just to make sure the cord hadn’t prolapsed too, because that could have been one of the issues, they said. But that didn’t happen. She was fine. My doula wasn’t there. My husband, poor thing, he was by himself for that part. Thankfully, I told him as they were wheeling me into the OR, “Call her! Get her to come. You need someone here with you.” Because I didn’t know how he would be either, especially if my baby hadn’t made it. He did say though, that he was able to hear her cry, because he was standing outside the door. It seems like it took forever in the OR, but he said it didn’t because literally, once I was in there, it took five or so minutes for them to put me under and all of that, and he was able to hear her cry. He knew at that point that she was okay. We didn’t know if she was a girl or a boy at that point. We didn’t get our moment of her coming out and being put on my chest and being able to look together, which we were so looking forward to, because that was the incentive for a VBAC too. You know, how exciting it is to have your baby and not even know if it was a girl or a boy, then being able to look. He found out via a picture. The nurse got his phone and took some pictures for him. I found out when I was wheeled into the room. There was a little pink hat on her head, so I knew it was a girl at that point. Meagan: How long did it take for you to come back to and be present again? Jennifer: Honestly, I think it was less than an hour. I was in the recovery room by 3:00. She was born at 2:00, and by 3:00, I was in the recovery room, which is basically the amount of time it took with my son as well. It was like a normal C-section. He was actually able to cut on my old C-section scar, so everything was pretty textbook. Instead, it was a lot faster than a regular C-section. As far as post C-section, everything was textbook. I was in the room about an hour after, nursing her, and she was feeling so good. That part was kind of normal, if you would call it that. Emergency vs. Crash Cesareans Meagan: Good. Yeah and I want to talk about, really, that difference. There are emergency C-sections, then there are true, true emergent, crash C-sections. You had a crash C-section. One of the first indicators of a crash C-section is if they have to knock you out and there’s no time to even talk and discuss or do anything like that. Baby was out in, what did you say, 43 seconds? Jennifer: 43 seconds. Meagan: Yeah, that is a true, crash C-section. A lot of times with crash C-sections, partners are not allowed to be there either because there’s no time and there’s so much happening that they don’t even have time to allow that person in. Fetal heart tones are one of the biggest reasons for a crash C-section. Really low heart decels that cannot be recovered or found. Obviously, it’s a very scary situation and we want to get baby out. So that’s what they did. They rushed and it sounds like they did a very good job rushing. We are so glad that she was okay. Jennifer: Thank you. It was very scary and still it’s very hard to even talk about. I was so grateful-- we have a great perinatal mental health specialist in town that, four days post-delivery, I saw her for the first time. I saw her every two weeks for the first month. I went every month and I still see her. Now we talk more about husband and children issues, but for a long time, we just talked about the birth. Trying to help me to just realize that it was okay to have those feelings. The sadness. Because even in the hospital, talking to my nurses, I was very tearful all the time. But they were just like, “She’s here, she’s okay.” It was true. But I was also kind of mourning the birth that I didn’t get to experience. I am so happy that my little girl was okay, and I would do anything. I would go back and have another crash C-section just to have her healthy, but after preparing and feeling like I am a great candidate for a VBAC, I didn’t really set myself up for what if it doesn’t happen? You know? Julie: Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. Jennifer: I guess that’s one reason why I wanted to share my story too. Because for nine months, even longer than nine months, before I even got pregnant, VBAC was what was going to happen and I had no doubt about that. That was one of the things we’ve worked on a lot in counseling too. It was okay to have those feelings, but it’s okay too that it didn’t go the way I wanted it to or the way I expected it to. Julie: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s so important. That’s one of the reasons why we like to share all of these different types of stories and different birth outcomes, because while uterine rupture is incredibly rare and a catastrophic rupture is even more rare than that, it still happens. When you’re the 1 in 100 or a 1000, it might as well be a 100% chance for you, because that’s what your story is and that’s what’s happened to you. We’re grateful that yours didn’t end up in a uterine rupture. But there’s still that trauma there. The minutes leading up to that 43 seconds probably felt like an eternity, and there’s a whole lot of stuff there to process. Jennifer: It did. When they’re putting you in the OR, you’re having to switch over beds real quick and you can’t move, because they’re trying to get you all set up. You’re literally laying there naked because they’re in a rush. They’re throwing betadine on you and cleaning you up and getting you ready. All of those things, while you’re sitting there and you’re trying to think through it. You’re thinking the worst of what’s going to happen and how you’re going to tell people. How you’re going to tell your little ones at home-- just the worst thoughts. Then my doctor came in the next day and said, “Oh, well, you did have a uterine window.”And I’m like, “Gosh. First of all, do we really need to talk about that? Because that had nothing to do with my delivery at all.” Meagan: A lot of people have uterine windows. Julie: Yeah, Meagan did. Jennifer: I’ve heard you can even have one if you’ve never had a C-section. Meagan: Absolutely. A lot of first time moms probably have them and they would never know if they didn’t have a C-section. Jennifer: He’s basically telling me that, “Look, you’re never going to have a vaginal birth.” I don’t know if we’ll have another child. I think we’re good. But I just had a baby 12 hours ago. You don’t need to be telling me this. Meagan: Right. My provider told me that on the table. During my C-section he told me he was so happy that I didn’t VBAC because I “for sure would have ruptured.” And that I have this window. But what he doesn’t understand is what that did to me for my next birth. It stuck with me. And you’re like, “I just had a baby. Can I just focus on this for this very moment?” Jennifer: Exactly. Because even if we choose to have another one, or are blessed to have another one, I’d probably worry my whole pregnancy that, “Oh gosh, I have a uterine window.” Even if I wasn’t trying for a VBAC, I’d probably be thinking, “Okay, I can rupture any moment.” Some things just don’t need to be said. Julie: I think that providers sometimes don’t realize the impact that their words have on these pregnant people and I think sometimes it comes out of misinformation. They just don’t know. These guys, they’re surgeons. Most obstetricians have done hundreds, thousands of C-sections, perhaps, and have seen a lot of really abnormal things. I can’t imagine that it would be comfortable for someone doing a C-section to see a uterine window and see through the uterus. That probably would be really hard. They would probably be thinking, “Wow. It’s a good thing we’re doing this C-section because this uterus is really thin.” I think it’s more of a defensive mechanism-- a subconscious, primal thing. Seeing that is scary and there’s not a lot of information. There’s no information. There’s no way to tell if a uterine rupture or a uterine window leads to a rupture. There’s just no way. You’d have to know if the uterine window was there before the rupture happened. You can’t do that unless you have a C-section. And so, there’s just no evidence. At all. You just have to assume. When you make assumptions, you get misinformation and misguided providers. It’s really frustrating. I wanted to tell a quick story. I had a client who had a crash Cesarean. There’s so much stuff I want to talk about. It is all in our course. My mind is going on all these different tangents like epidural placement, crash Cesarean, emergency Cesarean, preparing mentally for a different outcome, all of these things. But I want to talk about my experience. I had a client and she had a two-vessel cord. Normally the umbilical cord has three vessels, two going in and one going out. Hers only had one going in and one going out of the cord which, usually, is not a problem. And, usually the cord around the neck is not a problem. Most of the time, you just slip the cord off the neck as the baby comes out and everything’s fine. But sometimes it is a problem, like in your case and, it turns out, in my client’s case. She was going along perfectly in her VBAC and everything was fine. She was pushing for two hours. She just could not get the baby past the pubic bone. She finally decided she wanted an epidural so that she could get some rest. Rest and descend to let the body do some work on its own while she could get some much needed rest. The anesthesiologist came in and she was pushing. She finally got the baby past the pubic bone. The anesthesiologist was there getting ready to do the epidural. By this time, the OBGYN had come in. She was with a midwife and the baby’s heart rate was super tachycardic. 60bpm, 240bpm, 180, 40bpm, 90. It was up, down, up, down, up, down. It was so crazy, all over the place. Baby was under a lot of stress. The OB said, “How long is it going to take you to get an epidural where we could do a forceps delivery?” He’s like, “Well, probably about 20 minutes.” She’s like, “I don’t have 20 minutes. I have 2 minutes.” Once she said that, everything changed. They dosed up her IV. They flattened the bed out. They wheeled her to the OR. It was like, this baby is not doing well. Now we need to get the baby out. There’s no time for an epidural. There’s no time for anything else. We need to get the baby out now. And so, they rushed everybody. It was busy chaos, just like you said. Everybody flooded into the room. Me, the birth photographer, and the birth partner stepped back, got out of the way, and they rushed her away. The baby was born three minutes later, after the obstetrician had said, “I only have two minutes.” It ended up being three minutes, but I’m sure she was just throwing out a short amount of time. It was a good call because the baby was born with an APGAR of 0. Literally, they had to resuscitate him. His two minute APGAR was 5, he was in the NICU for six weeks. There was a lot of crazy stuff. It was not a uterine rupture. It was the two-vessel cord. The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, so once he got past that pubic bone, all of the pressure was super restrictive and he wasn’t getting oxygen. That’s a crash Cesarean. Baby needs to be out in minutes. Minutes, even seconds, matter. That’s why we kind of laugh at the “just in case” epidural, because even if an epidural is dosed and turned on, in order to get it up to a dose where you wouldn’t feel it during surgery would take 20-30 minutes, even if it is already turned on. If it’s not turned on, it could take 40 minutes. If you only have two or three minutes to get baby out, you’re going to be put under whether you have the epidural or not. Jennifer: Exactly. See, I had asked my doctor that at one of my appointments because I was going to try to go without an epidural. I said, “If I go without, what happens if I end up needing a section?” He said, “If you need a section that quickly, it would be a crash section and you’re going to be put under regardless.” He said, “Do not make up your mind on whether or not you want an epidural on the basis of a section or not. If you want it, get it for pain management. Don’t get it because, you think, okay well, what if something happens and I need a section?” Julie: This is where people can get confused. The medical definition of a crash Cesarean is baby has to get out now. We can’t wait. We can’t do anything. We need to knock mom out, cut baby out as soon as possible. That’s a crash Cesarean. Emergency Cesarean is, “Oh gosh, baby is not looking great. You’re only 4 centimeters. Let’s call the OR and get the anesthesiologist in here. Oh, he’s in another surgery, so you’re going to have to wait 30 minutes.” That’s an emergency Cesarean. But when people hear the word emergency, it’s not a good word. It’s not a good thing. Emergency is bad in our minds. An emergency Cesarean really just means, “We don’t think baby is going to come out vaginally and so we need to get it out through a Cesarean.” In that case, if there’s time to wait, then there’s time to get a spinal block, which takes five minutes to take effect. It’s much different than an epidural. It wears off a lot quicker too, which is why it’s not their first go-to, but a spinal block takes effect rather quickly and you can still have your Cesarean in 30-40 minutes with a spinal block. Then, of course, we have planned Cesareans which are scheduled. So you have your scheduled Cesarean, your emergency Cesarean, which is not an emergency. It just means, “Oh, well, we don’t think baby is going to come out vaginally”, or maybe there are problems, like mom has a fever, there’s pre-eclampsia, blood pressure, swollen cervix, etc. Crash Cesarean is, “Alright. This is an emergency. There is a risk to the life of mom or baby. Baby has to come out right now.” That’s where seconds matter. Jennifer: I think it’s important for people to know the difference. Not that any one is worse than the other, but some nurses and doctors don’t even know the difference. Because my regular doctor was on vacation, I had a stand-in doctor every day. They would call it an emergency C-section, often. It was so close and so fresh in my mind that I would correct them every time. “No, it was a crash section.” There’s a difference. The fact that they call it an emergency section over and over, I was like, “Gosh y’all. It wasn’t just an emergency.” It didn’t feel like that, at least to me. Julie: Yeah. Significant difference. Very big difference. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Before we forget, we want to ask you our questions that we try to remember to ask people. Meagan: I actually want to share just one more thing really, really fast. We have a blog post. I believe Julie wrote it. It’s about healing after a birth that didn’t go the way that you wanted it to. Julie: It’s How to Cope When You Don’t Get Your VBAC. That’s what it’s called. I just barely linked to it in the blog I’m writing right now. Meagan: It’s How to Cope When You Don’t Get Your VBAC and there’s Healing From Trauma After a Difficult Birth Experience. We have two different blogs that may benefit you if you are in this situation as well. So go check it out. It’s at thevbaclink.com/blog. We’ve got oodles and oodles of blogs in addition to that, but those are two specific ones that I thought related to this awesome story. Julie: There’s a search bar on the blog. You can go in and search for whatever you want, really. Enter in the search term you are looking for. On mobile, I think it’s at the bottom sometimes. If you are on a desktop, it’s on the right side. Click on the blog page and it will pop up there for you. Q&A Meagan: Yes, yes, yes. And then we do. We ask questions. We always forget to ask, so I’m excited that Julie remembered. One of them is, what is a secret lesson or something no one really talks about that you wish you would have known ahead of time when preparing for birth? Do you remember what you answered? Or do you want to answer something random, too? We have what you answered if you want us to read it. Julie: I don’t remember. I wrote that so long ago because we had to reschedule a few times. I don’t even remember what I put. Meagan: You said that you wish you had prepared yourself for the possibility that you would have had to have a C-section. You were so positive that you would have had a VBAC that you didn’t think of any other complications. I think that is such a big and powerful tip. Our secret lesson, as we are calling it, because there are a lot of times where people write their birth plans and they’re like, “This is how my birth is going to go,” and then birth doesn’t necessarily go that way. It’s actually a lot of trauma for them because they had only prepared for this one way. This is why we believe that hearing CBAC stories and uterine ruptures are really good to hear. They’re really scary to hear when you’re preparing, sometimes, but they’re so beneficial in so many ways. What is your best tip for someone preparing for a VBAC? Jennifer: I think it would be, like I said, to have an open mind. Labor never goes really how you plan, but definitely have a very pro-VBAC team. You know, a doula, your doctor. Go in knowing that it may not go the way you want it to, but it’s okay. There are so many resources after that can help you, like my counselor. My husband was a big support system. Just making sure you have a good support system, whether it’s family or otherwise. Meagan: Definitely. I love it. Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing your story. We love it. We love you and thanks for being with us. Closing Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.
47 minutes | 2 months ago
146 VBAC Doulas Tell All
This episode is a must-listen! Ten of our VBAC doulas give their best tips and tricks for an empowered pregnancy and birth. There are so many sweet nuggets of information given by these wonderful people that you will be sure to re-listen again and again to soak it all in. To find a doula on this podcast or, in your own state or country, go to thevbaclink.com/findadoula. Guest Doulas: Kimberly Culver Dulce Birth - Central Texas - Birth hormones and physiological birth Terri Schelkoph Doula Mama - Lakeville, Minnesota - The people you have in your birth space Tiffany Muniz The Doula Tiffany - Breese, Illinois - Choosing a supportive provider Emmy Howard Birth Wizard - Chandler, Arizona - Teamwork makes the dream work Brittany LeBoeuf MotherBirth - Lafayette, Louisiana - Staying informed and always learning Nicole Ramsey Ada's Gift Doula Services - West Central Indiana - Birth planning and choices Michelle Holmes Doulaed - Heber City, Utah - 3-minute childbirth education class for the partner Brooke Volpe Solace Birth Services - Southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey - Understanding the pelvis Dominika Buck Alaska Above and Beyond Doula Care - Alaska - Coping with unsupportive family and friends Sarah Bills - The VBAC Link Admin - Boise, Idaho - Asking questions and being an active participant Want to become a VBAC Doula? Head over to thevbaclink.com/product/advanced-doula-certification and get started today!
42 minutes | 2 months ago
145 Hermaris' VBAC + Prodromal Labor
Hermaris' first birth was straightforward and boring until the very end when they found out her baby was breech. She was unable to turn her baby and ended with a Cesarean. With Hermaris' second pregnancy, she was forced to switch providers at 30 weeks due to her insurance. After laboring at home for a long time, Hermaris and her husband headed to the hospital. She arrived at a 6 and quickly progressed. Hermaris' birth was full of lots of surprises, but she still got to have her VBAC. Meagan takes a moment to talk about prodromal labor. She tells you what it is and what to do when you experience it. Main Episode Topics: - Breech - Switching providers - Prodromal labor This episode is brought to you by, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents: Our course is not a typical childbirth class. We focus exclusively on the extra information you need to prepare yourself for the best chance of a successful VBAC. How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents Additional Links: The VBAC Link Blog Hermaris' Website Hermaris' Instagram Hermaris' Photography Instagram Hermaris' Shop Hermaris' Facebook Hermaris' Blog
51 minutes | 2 months ago
144 Laura's VBAC + IUGR and Due Dates
Laura's first baby was failure to descend and ended in a Cesarean. 3 years later Laura and her husband were able to conceive with IUI. During her pregnancy, her baby was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (smaller baby than it should be). Through many discussions and changed plans, they took the diagnosis away and changed her due date forward because they knew the day she conceived due to the IUI. Just days before her due date, Laura went into labor. She labored at home and arrived at the hospital dilated to a 10! Laura was able to push her baby out despite the fears and doubts she had. At the end of the episode, Julie discusses due dates and what you can do to track the date you conceive. Check out the links below for more information. Main Episode Topics: - Failure to descend - Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) - Infertility - IUI (intrauterine insemination) - Due dates - Basal Body Temperature (BBT) This episode is brought to you by, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents: Our course is not a typical childbirth class. We focus exclusively on the extra information you need to prepare yourself for the best chance of a successful VBAC. How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents Additional Links: The Evidence on: Due Dates How to Track Your Basal Body Temperature
56 minutes | 2 months ago
143 Kate + Birth Outside the US
Kate tells us all about her birth experiences in England and how they differ from birth in the US. She was induced at 38+1 with her first baby, which led to an emergency Cesarean. Kate was so happy that her baby was healthy and safe, but she felt her body "failed" her. She found a supportive provider to guide her through her second pregnancy. Kate went into labor at 41+2 and labored at home until she reached 8cm. She was able to achieve her VBAC with the support of her husband, doula, and midwives. Main Episode Topics: - Birth in England - Midwifery - Pessary - Cesarean Rates This episode is brought to you by, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents: Our course is not a typical childbirth class. We focus exclusively on the extra information you need to prepare yourself for the best chance of a successful VBAC. How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents Additional Links: Kate's Instagram Find A VBAC Doula
46 minutes | 2 months ago
142 VBAC Blogging: Lessons Learned
In this episode, Julie and Meagan talk about their most popular blogs. They go into detail on where they get the information and resources to write their blogs. They also talk about their most popular blogs in more depth. They also talk about their most popular blogs in more depth. Including birth intervals when seeking a VBAC, the CPD diagnosis, big babies, birth trauma and baby positioning. Use the search bar on our website to search for different topics in our blogs. The VBAC Link Blog Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents Keywords/Topics: birth intervals; small pelvis; cpd; big baby; baby position; birth trauma; scar tissue
65 minutes | 3 months ago
141 Molly's VBAC + 4th Degree Tears
In this episode, Molly shares her Cesarean and her two VBAC stories. Her Cesarean was a birth center transfer due to no progression after 5 hours of pushing. Molly's second birth was a VBAC at a birth center where she had a 4th degree tear and was transferred to the hospital to be repaired. Her third birth is what Molly calls her "dream birth" with no tearing! How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents Molly's Blog Molly's Birth Services Facebook Page Molly's Facebook Page Molly's Instagram Handle: @mollywogray _______________________________________________________ Topics/Keywords: midwives; gbs; posterior; postpartum anxiety; doula; perineum massage
50 minutes | 3 months ago
140 Amber's VBAC + Postpartum Anxiety
In this episode, Amber shares her VBAC story! She talks about her Cesarean birth for failure to progress and tells how redemptive her VBAC birth was. Especially when she progressed farther than her first birth. Also in this episode, Amber, Julie, and Meagan talk about their emotional and mental postpartum experiences. We would like to thank this episodes sponsor, Betterhelp Counseling whose mission is to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient - so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere. Get 20% off your first session by going to betterhelp.com/vbac. Topics/Keywords: depression; anxiety; meditation; castor oil; postpartum
58 minutes | 3 months ago
139 Julie and Meagan Answer Your Facebook Messages
Julie and Meagan answer all your questions! From herbal supplements, switching providers, turning your OP baby, dilation, uterine scar, cervical lip, and more! Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program The VBAC Link Blog
50 minutes | 3 months ago
138 Tiffany's VBAC + Nuchal Hand
Tiffany shares all about her struggles with infertility, including an ectopic pregnancy where she lost one of her tubes. She goes on to share about her breech Cesarean and her VBAC, both in military hospitals. Tiffany was able to labor at home for awhile, and arrived at the hospital at a 5. She goes into great detail about her labor, and what she was feeling both physically and emotionally every step of the way. The pushing stage came differently than Tiffany expected, so she adapted and was able to get her baby here vaginally. How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents Topics/Keywords: Nuchal Hand, Military, Infertility, Doula,
48 minutes | 4 months ago
137 Amy's HBAC + Pushing
Amy shares about her Home VBAC with her amazing group of midwives. She talks about how changing providers from an OB to a midwife wasn't as big of a change as she expected, it was just about finding someone she felt would listen to her and that she felt comfortable with. Later in this episode, Julie and Meagan talk about the physiological side of pushing and the best positions to birth in. We want to thank this episode's sponsor, Betterhelp Counseling, whose mission is to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient - so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere. Get 10% off your first session by going to betterhelp.com/vbac. The VBAC Link Community Facebook group The VBAC Link Advanced Doula Course How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents
68 minutes | 4 months ago
136 Jocelyn + International Health Care
Jocelyn had a Cesarean due to her baby being breech, and was so grateful she had her doula with her. She shares all about the differences of her birth experiences from her Cesarean in Germany, and her VBAC in the U.S. Jocelyn was able to find a VBAC supportive provider in the rural area she lives in, and didn't have to travel an hour and a half to the city for her VBAC! We want to thank this episode's sponsor, Betterhelp Counseling, whose mission is to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient - so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere. Get 10% off your first session by going to betterhelp.com/vbac. The VBAC Link Community on Facebook The VBAC Link Doulas
51 minutes | 4 months ago
135 Rebecca's VBAC + Travel for VBAC
Rebecca had a Cesarean due to meconium in her baby's lungs and was unable to meet him for 9 hours after birth. She then had to search outside of her home area to find providers who took VBAC clients. After being in labor for hours, she checked in to the hospital and shortly checked out for minimal progress and was told "I hope you go into labor soon!" After a couple more hours of labor at a hotel, she went back to the hospital to be checked again. Listen to find out how Rebecca's story ends! Check out our blog to find out how you can advocate to reverse a VBAC ban in your community! The Truth About VBAC Bans Rebecca's Facebook Page How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents
45 minutes | 4 months ago
134 Meet Sarah, our new Admin!
Sarah is our admin, who helps handle our social media and all the messages we receive from all you wonderful people, and so much more for Julie and Meagan! In this episode, Sarah tells about herself, how she got the job, and shares her own birth story. She is SO excited to be a part of The VBAC Link, and has loved interacting with all of you for the last few months, and looks forward to much more interaction in the future! Advanced VBAC Doula Certification
58 minutes | 5 months ago
133 Emily' VBAC + The Hard Stuff
Emily Jacobson is the owner of Green Bay Doulas, and Executive Director of the Wisconsin Doulas Association, with almost a decade of birth work under her belt. In this episode, Emily shares her VBAC story that wasn't very empowering for her. We talk more about how birth can be hard and difficult even when it is a VBAC, and how that's okay! We think more people need to talk more about the true feelings we have during and after birth so more women can relate and learn from these personal stories! Listen to our insight regarding birth and the feelings birthing people go through. "Don't compare someones highlight reel to your backstage footage" Emily's Facebook Emily's Youtube Channel Emily's Instagram handle: @greenbaydoulas ______________ Keywords/Topics: high brim pelvis; vacuum; transverse
39 minutes | 5 months ago
132 Sarah's VBAC + Midwifery Model of Care
At 39+5 weeks, Sarah’s Provider would no longer support a VBAC due to COVID 19. With the connections of her Doula, she was able to transfer care to a Birth Center and Midwife. After 28 hours of unmedicated labor, with twists and turns along the way, she had an exhilarating VBAC. How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents ________________________ Keywords/Topics: nuchal hand, triple nuchal cord,
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