For the past weeks now, I’ve been meeting with the mommies in our playgroup. There’s really no structure. We just go there with our babies (and their toys) and enjoy chatting. When Thursday comes, it’s like drop everything and go to our meeting place. When I get home, I feel inspired, and I bring this happiness with me knowing that I have a group of women whom I share the same interest with—our kids:).
In relation to my mission/purpose in life—that is to share my VBA2C experience with other moms who aspire to have VBAC as well—I’m so excited to be meeting more and more moms, who also want to share the same experience as mine, through our playgroup. In my heart, I thank God for bringing them to me. It’s my way of paying it forward by imparting my ideas on how to have a successful VBAC because I’m so grateful for what happened to me.
However, I have to be clear with myself what I really want to happen while I’m doing this. I have to be clear that I’m here to listen, I’m here to share my knowledge and experience, but in the end, it’s really the decision of the parents/VBAC-mommy-to-be if she wants to pursue it or not.
Recently, I met with a mom who wanted to try VBAC. She was already on her 37th week, I think, so we didn’t really have so much time to work together with her VBAC. Though I was still optimistic about it. We met with her husband once and had a nice time chatting. She shared her own birth story to me, and I listened. Since our first meeting at our playgroup, I referred her to my OB. She met her the following week, but since she was well advanced in her pregnancy, my OB deemed it unethical to take her in as patient. Aside from that, she had to transfer all her medical results, etc., to my OB; so in the end, she had to stick to her original OB. When we met, I told her it’s her body, it’s really her decision which doctor she wants to take:), but she decided to stay with her old OB. I respected that.
During our chat, we talked about the importance of having a birth plan, to which she mentioned she didn’t have one at that time. So I shared to her that in my experience, it was very helpful because when I was about 8-9cm and laboring hard, I got so thirsty I asked for water. The nurse told me it was not allowed because I was about to give birth already. But I told her I had a birth plan, and it was approved by my OB. She immediately looked for it in her file, and when she saw my OB’s signature, she allowed me to drink/sip some water. Guess she was just following hospital rules and didn’t want to get in trouble, but after seeing my birth plan, she conceded to my request. So I told my friend about this and to discuss this with her OB.
Before we parted, I just encouraged her to really have a self-reflection and ask herself what she really wants. Having a VBAC has its risks, but having a CS has its own risks as well since it is a major abdominal surgery. She mentioned that her wound from her first CS got infected, which required them to go to the hospital every day for checkup. I told her that alone is enough reason why she has to go for VBAC.
But then again, I have to do some reality check for her. Of course we want to have a successful VBAC, but as what my OB said to me before, I also have to be open to the possibility of having a CS just in case I really need one (if it’s medically necessary). That way I won’t get frustrated in case things won’t happen the way I expected it to. I agreed to that.
We continued communicating for the next two weeks. I gave her a copy of my birth plan and encouraged her to talk to her OB. Two days before she gave birth, she texted me that she was still 1 cm but just had her NST that morning and was recommended for admission. Since she thought she can still manage it, she went home and observed her contractions. We talked on the phone, and I agreed that she take some rest, observe if the contractions strengthen, and check baby movements every now and then.
The following morning, we texted each other, and she was still at home and said she didn’t feel any change in her contractions and that the baby was moving and active. So I suggested that she do some stretching exercises and do walking for her labor to kick in. She agreed to that.
I didn’t hear from her the whole day. The next day, I tried to contact her but no response. So I assumed she gave birth already. True enough, she gave birth that day via CS. I found out that she had a ultrasound that morning and found out that her amniotic fluid was low, so her OB recommended a CS already. (Note: Amniotic fluid is the water that surrounds the baby while in the womb.)
When I talked to her, I just asked her if she was at peace with what happened, and she said she was because at least she tried to have a VBAC and didn’t agree to a repeat CS right away. I told her as long as she is at peace with her decision and didn’t feel she was coerced by anybody to have a CS, that’s great. What’s important is that it’s her decision. It takes a lot of courage to say what you want to your OB (especially if she is not 100 percent supportive). It takes even greater courage to fight for VBAC and then later on say yes to a CS, and for that I admire this mom for it. I told her we can still try VBA2C next time around:).
For everybody’s benefit, I checked with my OB to get her opinion about it. I asked her a hypothetical question: “If I’m a VBAC-mom-to-be and my amniotic fluid is low, how long can I wait and labor before you recommend a CS?”
Her answer: “Depends on how low. If more than 5 cms fluid index up to 40 weeks with continuous hydration. If less than 5, deliver na.”
I asked another hypothetical question: “If more than 5 cms at 40 weeks, 1 cm open, 5 minutes interval of contraction, you will still wait to labor or recommend CS already? How long in terms of hours to do TOL [trial of labor]?
Her answer: “Around 24 hours observation or more as long as heart tones are good and baby active.”
After I gave birth to my second child via CS, I learned that it pays to have a second opinion. It’s really tough, especially if your child’s life is on the line. The thing is, once you have decided on having a CS, you really have to stand up to your decision (and the consequences thereof). If you want to have a natural childbirth, you just have to try it the next time around—which means the next pregnancy—and by that time, you have to fight for it because sad to say, some doctors/hospitals are still not open to the idea of having a VBAC, much less a VBA2C. I had to go through 2 CSs and interviewed four OBs to learn this lesson. Good thing I found a supportive OB and hospital that believe that VBA2C is possible!