Zachariah, Our Birth Story
A Vaginal Birth After Two Cesarean Sections (VBAC2C)
By Lucie Welch
7 ½ years ago I delivered fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. After 6 years of trying and many, many fertility treatments we finally got pregnant with the help of IVF. We were beyond thrilled! When I was 12 weeks pregnant my husband deployed to Iraq. I don’t know what was scarier, finding out we were having twins or my husband going off to war. It was tough but I remained strong for my hubby. It eventually came time to talk delivery with the doctor. I was told pretty early on that I was “too small” and would never be able to deliver vaginally. I automatically said ok. This was my first full term pregnancy and I did not even think to question it. I was just so excited to finally have our babies after years of heartache and praying to one day become parents.
I trusted the doctor and his expertise. What I did know, was that I had never done this before. So at 38 weeks I had a c-section to deliver my twins. My daughter was 6lbs 6oz and my son was 7lbs 14 oz. My husband did make it home in time for the delivery in case you were wondering. We were overjoyed and in love with our new beautiful babies.
The delivery was a blur though. After I got the spinal and they helped me lay down the rest is kind of fuzzy. I do know that I was heavily medicated. I barely remember seeing them for the first time. I do remember their gurgled little cries and I knew then they were ok. My husband went with them and met me back in the recovery room where a nurse had to massage my uterus because I was bleeding pretty heavily. After that I vaguely remember being wheeled to my room where I finally got to see my babies. This was hours later. I remember being so groggy I was afraid to hold them. The recovery was really hard especially taking care of 2 newborns. I remember after being home a few days looking at them and feeling so overwhelmed. I was so sad and in a lot of pain. I would not dare complain though because this is what we wanted and prayed and worked so hard for. It eventually got better.
When the twins were 19 months old we found out we were pregnant – again! Surprise! Totally on our own! We were elated… once the shock wore off. We could not believe we got pregnant on our own. We did not think we could after all that trying and no success. Then came the appointment when they wanted to get a date on the calendar and schedule my c-section. That’s when I asked if I could try a VBAC. The doctor said she didn’t recommend it. She said if I did try I would not be able to have ANY pain meds. Apparently, I would have to feel if I was rupturing. What?!?!?!?!? Then they told me all the bad things that could happen. It did not take me long to just schedule the csection.
So, at 39 weeks we had a beautiful little girl. 8 lbs 2 oz. I had a lot of bleeding during surgery this time but a shot of something took care of that. I remember laying there after they took her out listening to her crying, wanting nothing more than to hold her, talk to her, and sooth her. I kept asking if she was ok. I never got an answer.
It was like they did not even hear me. After what seemed like forever they brought her to me to see her. As soon as I started talking to her she stopped crying. Then they took her away again, and she continued to cry. I just wanted to hold her! Just like the twins c-section I felt so disconnected from my doctor and my baby. I don’t think she really even talked to me. During my csection I feel like the anesthesiologist spoke to me more than my very own doctor. I felt a little better after this c-section but not great. I went to the recovery room and after awhile they brought my beautiful little girl to me. I just held her. She was already a couple of hours old at this point. The next challenge was going to be going home and taking care of 3 children under the age of 2 and a half! Yikes! This quickly became our new norm and we adjusted just fine.
After our surprise, we could not even fathom having another child… until we realized we still had frozen embryos we needed to do something with. Simply “disposing” of them was clearly wrong in our minds. We saw these embryos as our children waiting for us to bring into the world. So, when Abigail was 3 we decided to try a frozen IVF cycle. There was no time like the present. The twins were in kindergarten and the stage of diapers and nursing was a distant memory. We wanted to use the embryos and see what could be.
It felt a bit crazy looking at my 3 beautiful children and giving myself injections. But this was the decision my husband and I made and we wanted to give the embryos a chance. We took a family vacation to Chicago where we saw our reproductive endocrinologist and visited our families. We hung out for a few weeks and transferred 2 beautiful blastocysts. A number of days later, we got my blood drawn at my OB’s office. We had a family day to take our minds off the suspense associated with waiting for the results. Later that day we were in the middle of dinner when we got a phone call. The pregnancy test was negative. I remember thinking, how is this possible? We did this once and it worked! We got 2! We also had a natural pregnancy? We were disappointed but looked forward to giving our remaining embryos a chance.
We decided to wait because of the toll this attempt took on my body and our family. Not to mention the checkbook…. So one year later we tried again and another failed attempt. This time there was only 1 embryo because one did not survive the thaw. Probably freezer burned. They had been frozen for awhile. We were devastated. This was our last chance to have any more children… or so we thought. So we settled in to our new life in California.
The twins started 1st grade and it was just Abigail and me. I told my husband that when she starts kindergarten I will probably go and substitute teach at their school and I would need to get my credentials updated. Our baby days were over and our family was complete. I grieved, but it was what it was. I was in total peace about the whole thing. My husband was not willing to put our family through all of that in-vitro stuff again and I totally agreed since I was the one who had to go through the physical demands of the whole process. We were moving on with our life.
About 2 and a half months later I was not feeling so well. I was convinced there was something seriously wrong with my stomach. I even made an appointment with the gastroenterologist. When I called to make my appointment they asked if I could be pregnant and I said no way! We can’t get pregnant! I went to the appointment and they wanted to schedule some tests. That night I was at the store and thought I should just pick up a couple of tests just to make sure I was not pregnant before I get all these tests done.
I was not late yet but took the test anyway that night. So I did the test and looked at it…nothing right away but I waited the three minutes and oh my goodness there was a faint line! I kind of rubbed my eyes and looked again… yup there was a line! I could not believe this was true! I must have looked at it a million times that night. I did not believe that it was right so I took a test every day for the next 5 days… and yes they were ALL positive. I thought ok this is pretty awesome.
Once we got to the 6 week point we were thrilled because in the past I had miscarried around then. I went to the doctor at 8 weeks and was thrilled when I saw the baby and a heartbeat. Wow this is really happening I kept saying to myself. It was so exciting! We announced our pregnancy to our friends and family at 14 weeks. Everyone was so happy for us.
My sister asked me if I have ever thought about trying to VBAC. I said that I had but it sounded really scary. She had recently had a successful VBAC with a special scar. I thought at the time she was CRAZY and asked why she just would not do another c-section. She said why if I don’t have to? So we started talking about it (a lot) and she even sent me a whole bunch of books to read. I started reading books and testimonials about successful VBACS online. The stories were so beautiful and I sat in front of the computer and just cried. I wanted that experience. I wanted to hold my precious baby right away and sooth and kiss his sweet little head. I wanted to do the skin to skin thing everyone was talking about. I really wanted to do this! I was motivated.
At my next appointment with my OBGYN I asked what her stance on me doing a VBAC was. Right away she shut me down. She said absolutely not! She said do you know what can happen to you? She went on and on about all the risks and tried to give me statistics from ACOG which I later found out were incorrect. I did not really respond I just thought “ok” and we went on with my appointment. After my appointment I spoke with my sister and told her about what happened. She said you live in a great place to try to VBAC. When I told her we were expecting she had done some research about VBAC friendly doctors in the San. Diego area and mentioned Dr. Cap. I was not really ready to listen until now, and the time was nearing if I was going to switch doctors.
Another mother I met at my daughters dance studio also had Dr. Cap and LOVED him. She had so many wonderful things to say about him. After that I was really excited and was going to give the office a call for a consult. I was so nervous dialing the phone number but was put at ease right away as soon as Angie (Dr. Cap’s lovely wife) started talking to me and was so encouraging from the start. I felt good about this. Now I just had to wait for my consult appointment with Dr. Cap.
A couple weeks later the day came for my consult. I decided that whatever happened I at least gave it a try. Dr. Cap came in to the room and introduced himself. I gave him my history and told him I wanted him to be my doctor if he would consider letting me try to VBAC. I was so nervous he was going to say no but instead he said “Let’s do it!” I was sooooo relieved.
He then went on to explain to me the conditions of this whole VBAC thing. I had to go into labor on my own and stay in labor. There would be no inducing or pitocin or anything like that. I said ok and made the switch to his practice.
The tricky thing was I had never labored before so we did not know what my body was going to do. I read more about birth and labor and all the stuff I did not pay any attention to previously. Remember, we had always had scheduled c-sections. I continued with all my appointments and everything was going beautifully.
At 35 weeks I started to feel cramping but nothing to be concerned about. Baby was head down at this point so there was no concern. I kept going to my appointments and everything was great. At my 39 week appointment Dr. Cap checked me and I was only a fingertip dilated. I was so bummed. I thought for sure it would be more after everything that I was feeling.
Even having carried almost 15 pounds of babies the first time around I did not feel any of this. Every day I would get up asking “Is today the day?” I had so many emotions going through me. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I kept telling people I really want to do this VBAC! It was now July 10th and off we went to Dr. Cap’s office for a check. I was getting so excited to see how much more I had dilated.
Well, I sure was disappointed when he checked and told me there was NO change since the appointment the week before. I was so bummed. My husband was ready to schedule the c-section right then and there. He was getting concerned for my health. I was not sleeping well, retaining a ton of fluid and just feeling done overall. I looked at my husband and said I’M FINE! Let’s just wait and see what happens. Dr. Cap reassured my husband that women can do amazing things. I was 40 ½ weeks at this point and could go to 42 weeks. That’s what we agreed on. If I did not go into labor on my own by 42 weeks we would do the c-section.
Feeling defeated, we declined an appointment to return a few days later. We told Dr. Cap we would just see him the following week. We were going to take the kids to the beach and celebrate my brothers 40th birthday and relax and enjoy our weekend. I was done worrying about it. I kind of just resigned myself to the fact that I would probably need the c-section and to stop worrying and enjoy my brother and his kids for the remainder of their visit.
My husband and I went and had a wonderful lunch at PF Changs and man was it good! I did not care anymore about the salt and swelling because I was at the point where it did not matter what I did so I enjoyed. It was nice to have a date with my hubby too.
After our date we went home and hung out with the kiddos and my brother. We made a light dinner and got kiddos to bed. My brother and I hung out for a bit and we turned in for the night. I was having the best sleep in weeks when……at about 2:00 am a contraction woke me up out of a dead sleep. I thought wow that was unlike anything I have ever felt before! I thought could this be it? I went to the restroom and back to bed. I was feeling these contractions on and off until about 3:45. I started to feel something weird so I got up to go to the restroom and when I sat up I felt it….yes my water had broken!!!
I asked my husband to give me the towel that was next to the bed. He said is this it? I said I think so! I stuck that towel in between my legs and ran to the bathroom where more fluid came out. I said this is definitely it! I got myself cleaned up put a pad on and started to get dressed. It was then that I noticed my husband back in bed. I said “what are you doing!?!?” He said well Dr. Cap said you could labor at home for awhile right? I said yes, your right but I will let him know what is going on first.
With my husband clinging to his pillow, I sent Dr. Cap a text and waited for his call. He called and I was so excited to tell him that my water had broken. I was still in disbelief this was actually happening. I was excited, like I was for our first babies, birthed via c-section, but s vaginal birth stories. I was confused; it was almost surreal. Dr. Cap just said to go to the hospital when I was ready and he would see us there. After I hung up the phone I sat in bed for a few minutes. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together. I thought, forget this labor at s go to the hospital!
I was getting nervous because I didn’t know what was to come and these contractions hurt. My husband grabbed the bags and loaded the car. Apparently, I ran around the house, making the bed, preparing the kids breakfast, and wiping down the counters. When I was finally ready to go, my husband was waiting on the couch. He had just watched me flutter around. I said “Come on what are you waiting for!?!?!?” He laughed… and we got in the truck. We didn’t bother waking anyone up.
We decided to call my brother after I got settled at the hospital. It was the morning of his 40th birthday. What a birthday gift! We drove down to Scripps. I was very thankful it was before 5:00 am. No traffic! We got there pretty fast and thank God, the contractions were painful… I got out of the truck and started to walk to the birth pavilion door and had to stop a couple times. I wanted my husband to take one last pregnant picture of me but, that didn’t happen. I wanted to just get in there.
We did the typical check in stuff and I got into bed. I was a little annoyed at the nurse asking me questions while I was having contractions. I thought I had answered all those questions on some paper at some point. Oh well…she finally stopped. It was right after that that Dr. Cap came in. He was cheerful and seemed rested. I was glad because I woke him up at around 3:00 am that morning. He encouraged me to get out of the bed and move around and get on the yoga ball etc. I think he also suggested putting on some soothing music. I was not really happy at that point. I kept thinking to myself: do people do this un-medicated stuff all the time? I could hardly comprehend what he was telling me I was in so much pain. So, I did what he asked and got on the yoga ball.
I starting rocking and doing whatever made me feel better. It did not take long for me to yell at my husband though was trying really hard not to do that. He told me a long time ago that’s what he feared most about having babies: me “coming off” at him in pain. Unfortunately, he was also trying to take Dr. Cap’s direction, attempting to find some music for me on his phone. I thought this was just him messing around. After dishing out a verbal reprimand, he told me he was looking for some Enya… Not my first choice anyways. He put the phone down reluctantly.
After a little while on the yoga ball I thought I was going to die from the pain. I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out or both. I kept thinking why did I choose this? I was going to follow through though. Then the nurse asked if I wanted something for the pain. I said “I can do that?” She said sure! I was remembering what the other OB told me with Abigail and asked the nurse to double check with Dr. Cap if I can have an epidural. Kind of funny I don’t remember discussing the pain management thing with Dr. Cap. It was not too much longer and the anesthesiologist came in. I was soooooooo happy to see her. I was exhausted at this point. Sweet relief. I think I told her I loved her.
When I had first gotten there they checked and I was only 1 ½ cm dilated so I was sure it was more by now. They got me all cozy in the bed and then Dr. Cap walked in. He asked what happened. I told him I thought I was going to die! I needed drugs! He checked me and I was only at 2cm dilated. I was really glad that I had gotten something for the pain. I don’t know what would have happened to me, or my husband, if was only at a 2 and in that much pain.
After Dr. Cap left, I rested for a while, made some calls, and sent out some texts. I called to wish my brother a happy birthday and told him he was not going out to dinner and to the beach but he was going to get a nephew! He was really excited.
I could still feel a ton of pressure but was glad I could not feel the pain. The contraction monitor was going crazy. Every 1-2 minutes I was having huge contractions. Dr. Cap came in at about noon and I was 5 cm and 80% effaced and -1 station (whatever that meant). It was all a strange language to me. So I just continued to hang out and talk to my hubby and watch a little TV. I was still in disbelief this was actually happening. I was actually in active labor and we were going to hopefully VBAC this baby.
At about 3:45 pm Dr. Cap came in and checked again. He said ok you are 9 ½ cm! I was like WOW really? He said yes! There was a little bit of a lip left and he moved it out of the way and said let’s try to push. I said what? Really? Now? He said yup! I could not believe it! It was time. The moment I have been waiting and praying for. So my hubby came over grabbed a leg and I started pushing… and pushing… and pushing. About 2 hours went by and still no baby. I kept thinking why is this taking so long?
I was getting extremely exhausted. So ready to just give up. I was done. It was obviously not going to happen this way. I did my best. I started to feel pain and a ton of pressure. No matter how many times I hit that darn epidural button it did not help. I started begging for more meds and kept telling Dr. Cap I could not do it. My husband said I was falling asleep, snoring in between pushes and contractions. The urge to push and the pain would wake me up. At one point the nurse asked if I wanted to feel my babies head. I reached down and felt. I got discouraged though because I thought I would feel more at that point. After all that pushing that’s all?
The pressure got more intense and at one point I begged Dr. Cap to cut me. He said “What do you want me to cut?” I responded with “I don’t care anything just cut me!” I later found out that I had already torn and just did know it yet. I then begged for him to vacuum him out. I would have taken any help I could get. Dr. Cap and my husband just kept encouraging me and I kept pushing with each contraction – between my 15 second to one minute naps.
I continued to wonder if this was going to happen after all. I was so exhausted. It was, physically, the hardest thing, besides carrying twins, I had ever had to do in my whole life. I tuned out Dr. Cap and my husband… until I caught my husband watching America’s Funniest Home Videos… Tongue lashing number two.
I continued to push when I felt like I had to. I remember Dr. Cap asking for another nurse to come in just in case. Just in case what? I later found out the babies heartbeat dipped a couple of times and he just wanted to make sure he was ok. I never even saw that nurse I had my eyes closed and was in the baby zone. I wanted him out so bad!!!! I felt like I was not getting any closer and I was getting mad now. Why was this so hard?!?!?!?! I started to push really hard and gave it my best…Still no baby….Then I got really mad and just pushed with all my might.
I wanted to do this and wanted to do it now! I kept hearing my husband saying “WOW! That’s amazing! Then there was lots of cheering and encouragement from everyone in the room. His head finally came out. Then I remember Dr. Cap saying hold on I have to get these linebacker shoulders out. Dr. Cap did his doctor thing and all of a sudden a huge relief and oh my I had a baby on my chest!
I did it!!!! I pushed my baby out of my body!!!
I was so overwhelmed with emotion I cried so hard the baby was practically bouncing off my belly. I looked at his goopy head and looked at my husband and we just cried. I could not believe I did it. I was instantly in love with my beautiful new baby and fell in love all over again with my husband. The nurse helped to clean him up a bit while the doctor and Sean did the other stuff and cord cutting etc… I was in love. My beautiful boy was here and I delivered him….Within 5 minutes he was nursing and we were skin to skin. It felt so wonderful. Like a dream. I could not stop kissing and smelling his sweet little head. I held him for awhile and then it was time to weigh him.
They only took him for a minute so I was ok with that. They put him on the scale and the grams came up first. Everyone was like oh my! Then they did the pounds and it said 10lbs 15.1 oz. I said Dr. Cap I think your scale is broken can we weigh him again? He said No Lucie trust me the scale is right. Oh My! I just pushed a 10 pound 15 oz baby out of my vagina! Amazing! I was still in shock that I actually did it. I got my natural birth and everything that comes with it! I am on top of the world and in love with my new baby. I held him for hours before anyone took him for a bath and all that other stuff they do with newborns. We got to bond from the first moment of his life outside my body.
Now I could relate to all the women who have had babies that way. I can also relate to a c-section. If I absolutely had to I would have had a c-section again but I am so glad I got to try. I am so grateful to Dr. Cap for believing in me and giving me the chance. He always said safety of baby and mamma are number one priority. I always understood and respected that. I am just so happy my body did what it was designed to do even after having 2 csections. It is amazing what we can do! Zachary’s birthday was an amazing, beautiful day I will never forget. Now, we’re enjoying every moment of our lives with Zachary.