Thursday, October 6, 2016

6 Ways to Prepare for a Thriving VBAC

I am very open and honest about my first birth experience and how it was NOT at all what I wanted, prepared or planned for. While I knew that "special circumstances" could arise (especially with twins) and had said the affirmation over and over, I still hoped I wouldn't have go through it, but I did.

This time around, I am very dedicated to having the birth I had so desperately wanted the first time. For me, that meant a VBAC.

What is a VBAC you ask?

VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. While I thought this was no big thang, I was in fact quite wrong. Maybe this was because whenever I talked about my next birth being totally different people "seemed" supportive. Maybe it was because I had laser-beam focus and was so committed to a natural, vaginal birth that I didn't realize that people weren't all that supportive. Whatever it was, it didn't become my reality until I was pregnant again and looking for a new doctor to take me on.

After reaching out to friends, friends of friends and even mom groups, I gathered a list of about six OBGYN's to contact and set up initial appointments with. My first mistake was apparently not telling the people from whom I was receiving said referrals that I was a C-section mom who did NOT want to have another one.

Well, I called all six and all six, "Did not accept VBAC patients".  Ummmmm, what does that mean? I had an excellent pregnancy a pretty good labor (no major complications minus the whole two babies thing), had the green light from my previous doctor and was as healthy as a horse. So, why oh why didn't anyone want me?

I sobbed. Hard. And I mean, hard. I called Nic constantly asking her how this was even possible? Could doctors seriously refuse patients? Was there NO medical professional that would support my dreams of experiencing the miracle of birth as it had been experienced since the beginning of time?! WTF???!!!!

Nic being the amazing birth goddess she is, immediately sent me a laundry list of reliable VBAC resources to start going through. The first on the list, ICAN, International Cesarean Awareness Network.  I can assure you I was already feeling better just typing such an empowering web address in my browser. I honestly had started to feel like I was in some futuristic utopian society where others were able to dictate what I could and couldn't do with my body. After being on this site for about five seconds, I started to get my fire back. And for those of you who know me, when that fire is lit, it is on.
I started to drink in as much information as possible in an effort to educate myself and prepare for finding a doctor who would support all my birthing dreams.

One question that I kept running into was, "Why don't you just have a home birth?" - Let me answer that for you.

I know who I am. I know that I'm crazy. I know that being at home would not at all be relaxing for me as I would be too distracted on things I wanted/needed to do around the house to focus on relaxing and allowing my body to do it's job. I was also slightly scared. After the not so fun experience I had at the hospital before, I thought my mind would be at ease knowing I was already at a hospital should anything totally random happen. Lastly,  I was kind of excited for a "getaway"...sick,  I know.

While a birthing center would have been the best of both worlds, they too wouldn't touch my VBAC uterus so I was going to be back in a hospital and was determined to find a doctor who I felt comfortable with.

ICAN not only had exceptional information, but also had references for doctors that were fully behind women who wanted VBACs. I wrote down the information, gathered my composure and made some calls.

When I first called Dr. Capetanakis' office I had difficulty speaking through my tears. Thankfully, the angel on the other end of the phone, Angie, made me feel like they were looking for me as much as I was looking for them. She assured me I had made the right call with "Dr. Cap" and scheduled me for the next week. When I inquired about if the distance would be too far for him to take me (he is located in San Diego, about 45 minutes-1 hour from me), she told me that many of his patients were from my area and even gave me great suggestions on things to do in the area with or without my little ones...amazing! I hung up the phone feeling such relief in finally speaking with someone who "got it" besides Nic. I was getting my birthing groove back.

Meeting Dr. Cap was just as wonderful as I imagined. Gorgeous office, kind and polite staff, phenomenal wellness center attached to his practice to meet all a mommy's needs and a man who fully understands and supports birth as it was intended to be. I again, cried upon meeting him and was able to pull it together long enough to thank him for giving me this opportunity. He kindly chuckled and replied, "Hey, I am only here to support you and I know you can do it". I had found my match and felt that confidence and empowerment come surging back. I was going to OWN this VBAC...#bestbelieve

From that moment on, it was time to prepare.

Here are my suggestions on how to best prepare for a VBAC - 
  • Educate Yourself. Apparently there are some safety concerns surrounding VBACs (this was news to me of course), like uterine rupture. Well, the research indicates that the possibility of that is less than 1%. A risk I am more than willing to take. However, not all women feel the same which is of course fine. But, take the time to educate yourself with evidence based research and make sure you are confident moving forward in whatever path you choose for you and your baby. 
  • Take Classes. As a second time around mommy, I assumed I didn't need any classes besides a little HypnoBirthing refresher. Well, I was wrong. Not only did I freshen up on my Hypno skills but I also took an amazing class designed for VBAC moms. Not only was the class incredibly therapeutic as we connected and shared our stories, but it provided more information to boost my confidence levels even higher. I also took a Labor Comfort Measures class which allowed my TH and I to re-create what we saw for our next experience. The Birth Education Center of San Diego was an excellent resource and Care is an absolute dream!!
  • Release. I remember going over and over every second of my last birth with Nic until I was blue in the face (thanks again for listening Nic!). I carried around my regrets, my sadness and the feeling that I was "robbed" from something I so badly wanted. It was time to let it go. Holding on to those negative emotions was not helping me prepare for a new birth. Taking the new set of classes really helped me realize how important this was. I let go of my fears surrounding birth and feeling pressured to do things I didn't want to do and focused on what was ahead of me. A new experience with a new baby. What was done was done and I had nothing more to take from it than two perfect, magnificent little boys.
  • Create A New Experience. With the past truly behind me, I spent no more energy in that experience. From here on out, it was only what was ahead of me and I kept those images on replay...I saw myself entering active labor. With my surges starting to become more consistent I saw myself drawing my essential oil/epsom salt bath and crawling in with a long awaited glass of red wine. As I relaxed in the bath, I released control to Mac and my body. As my surges continued to strengthen, I saw myself getting ready to head to the hospital. I kissed my two sleeping boys goodbye and saw myself excited to get in the car and have a quick journey to the hospital. As my labor advanced I saw myself dancing and moving as Mac and my body dictated I should. I focused only on my breath and with each surge connected it to waves crashing to the shore. I felt Mac descending from my body and with only a breath and a howl of joy I pull him to my chest. As his heart beats against mine I cry tears of elation as I whisper, "We did it my angel, we did it"....not sure if I will break into a full fist pumping adrenaline powerhouse or just continue to cry...only time will tell. All I know is those are the images I choose to see about my birth, those and those alone.
  • Find Support. Every pregnancy is different and every mother requires a different level of support. Since I had found a doctor who I trusted completely I knew the only other birth support person I needed besides my TH was a doula. My doula, Nic. I cannot recommend a doula enough. Granted, I am lucky enough to have a doula wrapped in a bestie, but this service is truly one I wouldn't want to be without. Having someone there to help not only you, but also your partner is huge. Whatever support you feel you need, you should get. It is well worth the investment.
  • Get excited. Every birth is different and should be treated as such. For those of us who desperately want a VBAC, this is the time to get super excited. To see our deepest desires come to fruition is going to be a truly magical experience. While I am trying to cherish the time I have before Mac comes, I won't lie...I'm pretty pumped!

Whether or not you want to be a repeat cesarean mommy, just make sure the choice is yours. There is no wrong way to bring a baby from a loving womb into a loving mommy's arms. From my experience, I never want anyone to feel the self-doubt, despair and confusion I did. I refused to accept someone telling me what was best for me and my baby.  Remember to trust your body, your instincts and follow your gut. We are strong, powerful Thriving Women who have been given the gift of co-creating, sustaining and delivering HUMAN LIFE. I mean, is there anything more freaking cool than that?! I think not. 

I look forward to sharing my birth story in the upcoming weeks and hoping I help other Thriving Mommies take another look at their birth choices and find the strength I momentarily lost.

*Here are some additional resources that I found helpful and empowering**

Strive to thrive, 

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