A few months ago, I was surprised to receive a text message that was obviously from the US (based on the country code that registered on my phone). I excitedly told my husband about it, letting him confirm my guess. Richard Klein, who I later found out through several text messages, was based in the US; however, his wife Dailyn was in Bislig, Mangagoy. At that time, he was looking for a Web site that would lead them to a doctor who can assist them in making Dailyn have a VBAC. They found my VBA2C story. I gladly told Richard that I’m willing to meet Dailyn if she comes to Davao for prenatal checkup and will tell her all I know about VBAC.
So a few days later, Dailyn called me on the phone. We talked for a while, and I encouraged her to see my OB here in Davao. She was a bit apprehensive because the birth spacing from the first child and the second was quite close. I told her it’s okay to try than go through an elective C-section right away.
It was really a challenging situation for her to be traveling from Bislig to Davao, but she was so determined to have a VBAC. So for several months, she was traveling to and fro for checkup; but when she was six to seven months pregnant, they got a place here in Davao in preparation for her childbirth.
When she was settled in Davao, we finally saw each other and had lunch. I just told her my experience and how I did it. I also gave her a copy of my birth plan. I was just happy to share what I know in the hopes that she too will have her own VBAC experience. We met a couple of times just to chat and see how she was doing. The week when we were to see each other again with Richard, she was too lazy to go to the city. A few days later, I got a text message already, telling me that she already gave birth–VBAC! I’m so proud of her inner strength and the wonderful partnership they both have for each other. Their love and support for this one goal made it all possible for Baby Nathan to be birthed naturally. I’m so in awe of this miracle. So far, this is the fifth VBAC story this blog has featured. May it inspire more women to go for VBAC!
So here’s Dailyn’s story as told by her loving husband Richard:
Seven months into my first pregnancy, my doctor informed me that I would have to have a C-section. The reasons she gave were my high blood pressure and the fact that the baby had its umbilical cord coiled around her neck three times.
Having the C-section was a terrible experience. It felt like a complete violation of my maternal instincts. I felt that I hadn’t really experienced childbirth, that in some important way I wasn’t really a mother. I didn’t get to experience the pains and the triumphs of labor and delivery. They just numbed me, cut me open, and pulled out my baby.
Furthermore, as is often the case with C-section deliveries, my baby showed no interest in breastfeeding. So I was denied another important experience that I felt should be a normal part of childbirth.
With my second child, I really wanted to have a normal delivery. I wasn’t even sure if such a thing was possible. My husband and I did some online research, and before long we were reading article after article discussing the pros and cons of VBAC.
One thing was immediately apparent: We would have to find a top-notch hospital, one that was able to transition instantly from a vaginal delivery to a C-section in case something went wrong. Since the closest major city to my hometown is Davao, we began to google “VBAC Davao,” and very quickly found the Milklady’s blog.
The Milklady mentioned in her blog that her ob/gyn was Dr. Darleen Estuart. We looked up the address and phone number of Dr. Estuart’s clinic in Davao and made arrangements for our first appointment.
I was very nervous before that first appointment—so nervous, in fact, that my husband practically had to drag me to the clinic. Our research had indicated that a woman trying for VBAC should wait at least a year, and preferably longer, before getting pregnant again after her C-section. We had waited barely eleven months. I was so afraid that this, or some other circumstance, would cause the doctor to declare that I was not a candidate for VBAC.
At that first appointment, Dr. Estuart was very kind but noncommittal. After all, she had just met me, didn’t yet know if I was a candidate for VBAC, and didn’t want to get my hopes up. She did comment that eleven months was too soon to get pregnant after a C-section, but that this wasn’t necessarily a show-stopper.
She then measured my blood pressure and found it was on the high side. This did concern her quite a bit. She prescribed a low dosage of aspirin to bring it under control. She explained that the low dosage was safe for the baby. She also put me on a strict diet of fish and vegetables so that the baby would be as small as possible during delivery. She explained that this would minimize the risk of uterine rupture.
At my second appointment, Dr. Estuart performed a sonogram. She determined that my C-section scar was a low transverse one, which is the ideal type of scar for a woman contemplating VBAC. Furthermore, the scar had healed nicely and was thick, indicating that a rupture along the scar would be unlikely. All good news!
Subsequent appointments confirmed that my blood pressure was under control, and my baby was maintaining a relatively small size due to my diet. Halfway through my second trimester, a sonogram revealed the sex of my baby. I was going to have a baby boy!
In the weeks that followed, he proved to be a very active and fussy little guy. He kicked me whenever he was hungry or too hot and kept up the kicking until I ate something or turned on the aircon. “He’s just like his father,” I thought. “I’ll bet he looks like him too!”
Halfway through my third trimester, another sonogram revealed that the baby had its umbilical cord coiled once around his neck. My heart sank. “Don’t worry,” said Dr. Estuart, “it’s not a big deal. We’ll just slip the cord over his head when it emerges from the birth canal.” What a relief it was to hear that!
Three weeks before the baby’s delivery date, I started getting Braxton-Hicks, or “false labor,” contractions. These were contractions that were mild, infrequent, and irregular. One week before the delivery date, the contractions became much stronger and much more frequent, although they were still quite irregular. These were the so-called “early labor” pains.
On the morning of Saturday, May 31st, I woke up with intense contractions that had a different quality about them. I looked at my husband and said, “I will be giving birth in the next few days.” He replied, “How do you know?” I said, “I just know.”
The contractions continued to become more intense over the next couple of days, and on Monday, June 2nd, we went to see Dr. Estuart for a checkup. My husband told the doctor that I felt that delivery was imminent and asked if a woman can really know such a thing. “Oh yes,” Dr. Estuart replied, “if a woman is in touch with her body, she absolutely can know when she is about to give birth.”
The doctor then examined my cervix and found that it was dilated 2 cm and partially effaced. “You should give birth within the next few days,” she announced calmly. “If that doesn’t happen by the afternoon of June 5th, give me a phone call.” My husband and I left the clinic in a daze, happy but a bit apprehensive. We both knew we would not have to make that phone call.
By noon the next day, June 3rd, I was clearly in active labor. By 3:00 p.m., the contractions were coming five minutes apart, so we called a taxi and headed to Brokenshire Hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, we checked into the emergency room. They called Dr. Estuart, admitted me, and escorted us (with me in a wheelchair) to the ob/gyn wing of the hospital. Once there, we changed into surgical scrubs and were escorted to the labor room.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Estuart arrived and gave me another cervical exam. I was now dilated 5 cm. The contractions were now very strong, but oddly enough, I found them quite bearable. I noticed that the contractions were a lot less painful when I was in a sitting or standing position. Other than that and squeezing my husband’s hand with ever-increasing pressure, I didn’t use any special techniques to manage the pain.
When I was dilated 7 cm, my water broke, and the contractions became much more painful. The nurses told me this was normal. With the amniotic sac gone, the baby’s head was pressing much more deeply into the cervix, causing the dilation to proceed much more forcefully. Soon after this, I was taken to the delivery room.
The nurses helped me get onto the delivery table and attached a fetal heart-rate monitor to my belly. At the first sign of fetal distress, Dr. Estuart was prepared to abort the VBAC and perform an emergency C-section. However, the baby’s heart beat continued at a more or less normal rate through my contractions.
After a half-hour or so, I got a sudden urge to push. “I want to push!” I exclaimed. Dr. Estuart quickly checked my cervix. “You’re only at 9 ½ cm. I need you to wait until you’re at 10 cm.” I found that this took some concentration, but was not too difficult.
Finally, after a few more contractions, Dr. Estuart checked my cervix again and told me it was now okay to push. She explained how to do it. “Wait for a contraction. Give me a really hard, sustained push. Pause. Breathe and then give me one more follow-up push.”
When my next contraction began, I pushed with all my might. While doing this, I squeezed my husband’s hand really hard and cried out a bit. My husband thought I must be in a great deal of pain, but I explained to him afterward that this wasn’t the case. I was exerting myself strenuously, but I found the pushing phase to be quite a bit less painful than the transition phase (the dilation from 7 cm to 10 cm).
Overall, it was an amazing experience. It felt like nothing else in the universe existed except for me and my baby.
After about three of these pushes, Dr. Estuart exclaimed, “I can see his head!” She continued to encourage me, and after three more pushes, I could hear our little Nathan crying lustily for the first time! The nurses quickly suctioned his nose and mouth, cut his umbilical cord, wrapped him in a blanket, and placed him on my chest.
His head happened to be facing my husband rather than me, so my husband actually got to see the baby’s face before I did. He told me afterward that he was stunned to see that Nathan looked exactly like him! He said it was like witnessing his own birth. Amazing. At that moment though, my husband and I just looked at each other. I was too tired to speak, but my gaze said it all. “We did it!”